States need $1B to implement Real ID, governors say

The country’s governors asked the House Budget Committee this week to provide a minimum of $1 billion in fiscal 2008 to cover initial state implementation of the controversial Real ID Act.

The letter requesting the funding was signed by Arizona Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano and Minnesota Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Napolitano is the National Governors Association’s chairwoman, and Pawlenty is the organization’s vice chairman.

The Homeland Security Department estimates that the cost to states of complying with the Real ID Act of 2005 will exceed $14 billion over 10 years, the letter states. Of that amount, states expect to spend $11 billion in upfront costs to create the data systems and processes necessary to implement the law and re-enroll holders of 245 million driver’s licenses and identification cards before the 2013 deadline.

“While governors fully support improving the security and integrity of driver’s license systems, Real ID is an unfunded mandate that violates the intent of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act [of 1995] and should be paid for with federal dollars,” the letter states.

The act has become controversial since its passage, not only because states view it as an unfunded mandate, but also because of concerns raised by privacy advocates that information stored on state databases would be vulnerable to hacking.

William Welsh is the deputy editor of
Washington Technology, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

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