Gov. Paul Cellucci should scrap an ongoing rollback of vehicle license and
registration fees if he wants to improve service at the troubled Registry of Motor
Vehicles, the House Ways and Means chairman said yesterday.
Something's got to give at some point -- I just don't think people are being
fiscally real in this," said House budget chief Rep. Paul R. Haley (D-Weymouth.)
A Cellucci spokesman dismissed Haley's comments as a typical legislative
We think we can improve the Registry and cut fees at the same time," said
spokesman Jason Kauppi. Obviously Paul Haley doesn't care about keeping the money in the
pockets of the citizens."
On Tuesday, the Public Safety Committee chairmen called for a series of
improvements to make the Registry more friendly to consumers, but conceded better service
might cost more money.
The license and registration fee rollback launched by former Gov. William F. Weld
during his unsuccessful 1996 U.S. Senate campaign will cost the state $110 million in lost
revenues that could be directed toward Registry improvements, Haley argued.
It was a gimmick by Weld," the Ways and Means chairman added. He said we
would save money by streamlining these operations, but instead, the cost continues to go
The cost of operating the Registry has skyrocketed from $40 million per year to
$50 million per year over the past three years and the agency is still plagued by service
problems, Haley said.
A badly needed new phone system at the Registry would cost another $5 million, the
Am I going to steal from education or take it out of home health care?" he
added. I think that asking folks to support a fee for a better service makes sense."
In a veiled reference to a rumored gubernatorial bid by Senate President Thomas
Birmingham (D-Chelsea), Haley acknowledged that he does not have enough support on Beacon
Hill to push through legislation to reimpose the fees.
Governor Cellucci wants to forgo all that revenue, and there are others in the
State House with statewide ambitions that aren't willing to support the reinstatement of
these fees even though they know that they're needed," Haley said in a prepared
Birmingham yesterday reiterated his support for the fee rollback. I cannot justify
in these best of economic times increasing Registry fees," he said.
Cellucci is expected to appoint Consumer Affairs chief Daniel Grabauskas today to
take over the Registry.
We think he's really going to whip the Registry into shape," Kauppi said.