For Immediate Release
Dec. 19, 2019
Driver’s licenses for all would make far-reaching economic, community impacts
State would see $100 million in revenue over 10 years
A report released today from the Michigan League for Public Policy highlights the economic impact of restoring driver’s licenses for undocumented Michiganders, including $100 million in new revenue over 10 years as a result of expanding access to driver’s licenses.
State law allowed undocumented residents to receive driver’s licenses until 2008, and the new information from the League reinforces the far-reaching benefits of renewing that policy. The Drive SAFE (Safety, Access, Freedom and the Economy) legislation would allow state driver’s licenses for all residents, and the bills were introduced in November by Sens. Stephanie Chang and Winnie Brinks and Reps. Alex Garza and Rachel Hood.
“The economic impact is important, but what we’re really talking about here is belonging. We’re talking about parents being able to take their kids to the doctor, to visit grandma, to get to school events. We’re talking about the fact that everyone living in Michigan should have an identity,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, President and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy.
If the Drive SAFE bills pass, an estimated 55,000 Michigan residents would pass driver’s tests and become licensed, leading to 20,000 vehicle purchases. Fees, registration and taxes from those two factors alone would result in $12 million in annual recurring revenue for the state. This does not take into account the positive impacts on local economies.
“Access to a driver’s license affects the amount of money people earn and spend. It’s imperfect, but it’s a fact: Being a Michigander often means being dependent on cars. When people can get to and from their jobs, they’re able to work more hours and earn more money. They’re able to expand the number of places they can shop and increase the amount of money they spend,” Jacobs said.
With 20,000 more Michigan drivers becoming insured and passing driver’s tests, roads will be safer and accidents resolved more quickly. The Drive SAFE bills would also lead to reduced auto insurance premiums, with Michiganders saving about $20 per year.
Dozens of statewide organizations including the the ACLU of Michigan, the Michigan Education Association and the Michigan Nurses Association support driver’s licenses for all, and the Washtenaw, Oakland and Kalamazoo county commissions have passed resolutions in support of driver’s licenses for all. If the bills pass, Michigan will join 14 other states that provide access to a driver’s license or ID, along with Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A 15th state, New Jersey, passed legislation yesterday that will allow immigrants without legal status to get a driver’s license, which is expected to be signed into law.
The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.