Licensed to license

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt has pledged improved service at state driver's and motor vehicle licensing offices around the state with new Saturday and evening hours. He also has issued new penalties for offices with more than a 2 percent error rate and is privatizing 11 of the state-run license offices at considerable savings.

His administration recently began doling out contracts to run the 171 privately operated fee offices in the state. The Southeast Missouri State University Foundation will keep the office it has been managing in Cape Girardeau but probably will lose control of its office in Jackson. Together the two offices in the past netted the foundation between $50,000 and $75,000 a year for scholarships.

The contracts typically go to supporters when a new governor comes into office. The foundation has run the two offices since awarded them by Gov. Mel Carnahan in 1993. Blunt gave the Ste. Genevieve contract to Cape Girardeau businessman Robin Cole. In Perryville, the office went to Perry County Commissioner Pat Naeger, a former Republican state representative. No decision has yet been made about who will run the offices in Jackson, Chaffee, Marble Hill and Poplar Bluff.

As new operators take over fee offices, they need to know the quality of services affects nearly every adult in the state in one way or another. Good service all over the state is a good goal. It will be up to Missourians to monitor those services.

Comments about the operation of these offices should be directed to the Missouri Department of Revenue.

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