A Texas Department of Public Safety Driver License Office. | Photo by Tamir Kalifa
State leaders Tuesday restored extended hours at 11 of the busiest driver’s license offices across Texas, following pushback from customers and lawmakers.
The Texas Department of Public Safety surprised customers last week when the agency trimmed office hours to save money.
State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, told the Houston Chronicle that the agency didn’t notify lawmakers about changes until after the legislative session ended.
“It’s pretty alarming — we leave after sine die [adjournment], and leave [DPS] a budget of $800 million for border security, which involves essentially two border counties, and we leave $11 billion in the rainy day fund, and we have to tell people they’re going to have to stand in longer lines to get a driver license,” he said, according to the Chronicle.
But DPS said funds directed to border security can’t be used for other operations.
Sharing a news report on his personal Twitter account, Gov. Greg Abbott said the issue had been “corrected.” Abbott’s office added later that he made the call to restore extended hours.
DPS released a detailed statement explaining the change.
“The office hours were changed on June 5 to mirror the standard hours at 189 DL offices around the state to control increasing overtime costs and assist with employee retention,” read the statement, which DPS spokesman Tom Vinger shared. “The decision to resume extended hours came after discussion with state leaders and state legislators. The Driver License Division will explore other options and efficiencies in order to keep the extended-hour schedule in place.”
The agency also noted that customers could renew their driver’s licenses or ID cards online or by phone, saving time and shortening wait times.
Read related Tribune coverage:
- Gov. Greg Abbott signed the state’s next two-year budget Monday, but vetoed tens of millions of dollars in funding for various programs, including measures meant to improve the region’s air quality and assist impoverished border communities. [link]
- Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw told state lawmakers that the $800 million border surge has made two counties safer. But he conceded that the rest of the border is more vulnerable. [link]
The director of the Texas Department of Public Safety told lawmakers on Tuesday the agency can’t predict when it will be able to scale back its border security operations in the Rio Grande Valley. [link]