Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Attorney General Steve Bullock today announced a cooperative effort to provide additional driver exam station staff to support increasing demand for commercial driver licensing services statewide, which is largely a result of the oil boom in eastern Montana.
“The oil boom provides the state with tremendous economic opportunities, creates good jobs here at home, and increases energy security for the nation,” said Gov. Brian Schweitzer. “Working with Attorney General Steve Bullock we were able to add staff to help ensure that folks can get the appropriate license and get on the job even faster.”
The additional services for commercial drivers were made possible by the Attorney General and the Governor’s Office of Budget and Program Planning working together to provide funding outside the current biennial budget. The new funding is being allocated from the gas tax.
According to Montana Department of Justice, Motor Vehicle Division statistics, since 2009, there has been a 23 percent increase in new commercial driver licenses (CDLs) issued and a 44 percent increase in CDL renewals. While demand has grown across the entire state, a significant portion of that increase has occurred in the eastern region of the state.
“The oil boom is providing Montanans an opportunity for good-paying jobs, so I wanted to make sure limited staffing in the Motor Vehicle Division wasn’t holding companies back from hiring Montanans,” Bullock said. “Fortunately, by working with the governor’s office, we’ve found a way to increase services all across Montana so we can speed up the licensing process, ensure that safe drivers are on the road, and put people to work sooner.”
Gas tax funds are being used to hire four new positions – three CDL-qualified examiners and a customer service clerk – and to upgrade five existing positions to fully qualified CDL examiners.
To address the backlog in eastern Montana, MVD has hired a new relief examiner in Glendive, transferred an examiner position to Sidney and adjusted work schedules to increase the number of CDL skills tests given in the Glendive/Sidney area. The work schedule adjustment alone provides 18 more skills tests a month.
The remaining positions will be stationed in Billings, Great Falls, Missoula, Kalispell and Polson. People take the CDL test all across Montana and many have jobs waiting for them in eastern Montana once they receive their licenses. A position also will be added in the Helena call center to assist with the influx of appointments being scheduled and to implement appointment scheduling statewide. Appointments can also be made online by visiting doj.mt.gov/driving and clicking “Appointment Scheduling.”