Hi Will – you may remember that the state has been through bad times before and there were lots of creative ways of saving money.
I was reminded of one way today in a discussion with a colleague from Canada — it’s quite simple — you can cut upwards of $2mm from the budget by eliminating the issuance of front license plates (that’s in 1980’s $’s – sorry, I don’t know today’s $’s but I’m sure it’s equally substantial).
Quebec and Alberta stopped issuing front plates in the 80’s as did 40% of all the US states.
So why do we issue two plates when we have a historical precedent of simply issuing one (remember the “greenies” issued 1977-1994 as rear-only plates)? You’d think the police would support this, but at the statehouse hearing in 1987 to reinstate the front license plates, the representative from the Massachusetts State Police said that “front license plates are pretty much worthless in police work – unless you require a much larger, simplified plate (more like the European plates), readable at a “closing speed” of at least 100 MPH we would never use them” The rest of the discussion focused on how the proposed plate design could never meet this standard, so the police are actually, fine about the one-plate solution.
Another downside of the two plate solution is that unregistered cars more easily get onto the road when someone “splits the pair” among two cars (It’s no secret that there’s not a lot of enforcement associated with missing front plates in a state that has a history of not issuing them for ~20 years (1977-1994)).
So, why do we pay the extra $2mm (in 1980’s dollars) for this luxury when our schools and social services go unfunded?
Patriotism! (oh yeah, and marketing)!
The new plates were designed in 1988 in the new Red-white and blue motif. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Red/white/blue fever was all over the place – some other states jumped on the bandwagon and we wanted to show our support for the stars and stripes and get that “Spirit of America” message out while traveling the country. Most of the other “stars-n-stripes” motifs have since gone by the wayside, but we persist. Now-days, I guess we just want to keep the cons in prison who make these things gainfully employed.
You’ve gotta ask yourself if it’s worth it.
Can I ask you to introduce legislation to eliminate this shameful waste of state funds?
Thanks Will and good luck in your race.
List of states: Of particular amusement, note that MA is the only state listed in green (“one or two plates”)