Emma Gallimore Jan. 11, 2016, 3:26pm


With Illinois still lacking a state budget, the Secretary of State’s office has suspended the mailed license plate renewal reminder service, and encourages drivers to sign up for the online system. 

The state was spending about $450,000 in postage for these renewal notices alone. With no word on when a budget decision will be made, the Secretary’s office is looking to save money wherever it can. 

“Our postal account cannot be replenished,” Henry Haupt, Deputary Press Secretary at the Secretary of State’s office told the Record. “Our biggest concern was that we would deplete our account and we wouldn’t be able to mail things out such as the actual renewal stickers.” 

Renewals are just a small portion of what the postal budget has to cover. The Secretary of State’s office also mails titles and essential documents for car dealerships and other automotive-based businesses. 

The Secretary of State and other state officials have been encouraging drivers to sign up for the online system since September. 

“When we suspended sending out the reminder notices, we did it because we felt it was a critical necessity so we could save on postage during this time when the state was operating without a budget,” Haupt said. The database now includes about 1.6 million people signed up to receive reminder notices by email.

That’s good news for the postal budget. 

“If people sign up to receive these by email, we don’t have to send out notices via the mail, so we save on postage,” Haupt said. “If everyone signed up for electronic renewal, the state would save about $5 million a year.” 

Anyone with a vehicle registered in Illinois is eligible to use the online system. Drivers can register by going to www.cyberdriveillinois.com and clicking the “sign up to receive reminder notices” link. Then they just have to enter the Registration ID and PIN located on their most recent renewal notice or current registration card. “It’s a really easy, simple system,” Haupt said. 

“If you sign up before your renewal date comes to an expiration period,” Haupt said. “You will receive via email a reminder notice, which is similar of course to snail mail but is without the cost of postage.” 

The Secretary of State’s office would make no comment about whether the postal mail reminder service would be reinstated after the budget question is settled. The State of Illinois has been operating without a budget since July, while lawmakers have attempted to close a projected $5 billion shortfall.

Until they do, state agencies are struggling to operate as best they can with limited resources. Social services agencies aren’t receiving payment, and the total owed by the state government is growing. In September, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings both lowered their credit rating of the State, which already had the lowest rating among all 50 states. 

The spring legislative session starts on January 13, but some lawmakers, including State Rep. Jack Franks, are urging Governor Bruce Rauner to call state lawmakers into a special session until the budget deal is reached.

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