Texas Public Safety Agency Restoring License Office Hours at 3 North Texas Offices

The Texas Department of Public Safety on Tuesday restored expanded hours at 11 of the state's busiest driver's license offices -- including three in North Texas -- after some lawmakers bristled that reduced hours intended to address budget shortfalls instead shortchanged Texas drivers.Three local offices, in Southern Dallas, Garland, and Fort Worth, will resume extended hours after discussion between state leaders and legislators, according to a statement from the Garland office Tuesday afternoon.The business office hours will go back to 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. They were reduced to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 5 to match other driver's license offices across the state. The Houston Chronicle reported earlier in the day that the public safety department quietly disclosed the cuts affecting its Driver License Division in an email to lawmakers and their staffs two weeks ago -- just after the legislature ended its session.The fate of two Dallas-area offices the department said it planned to close and planned layoffs of 108 people was not immediately certain. Those plans, in the May 31 email to lawmakers, were not addressed in Tuesday's department statement and the Department of Public Safety did not immediately return phone calls from The Associated Press or The Dallas Morning News.The division, dealing with a $14 million shortfall in the current budget and another $7 million reduction in the new budget beginning in September, now "will explore other options and efficiencies in order to keep the extended-hour schedule in place," the agency said.The department has a $2.4 billion budget for the upcoming two-year cycle, with about $750 million intended for border security. The driver's license division, which the Legislative Budget Board says has 230 locations around the state and 2,100 employees, is earmarked for $133 million.Department spokesman Tom Vinger said earlier the agency isn't allowed to use border security money for other purposes, like the driver's license division. Lawmakers also told the department its money in the upcoming budget was reduced by 4 percent.It's "unacceptable for DPS to fail to fully provide a basic public service for Texas taxpayers." Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, said.  Continue reading...

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