JEFFERSON CITY — With state revenue collections in sharp decline, one might think Missouri would be desperate to accept money from all available sources.
But, the new director of Missouri's Department of Revenue, Alana Barragán-Scott, said the state can afford to hold off on collecting licensing fees for certain young drivers. Instead, she recommends caution when permitting some teenagers to drive on Missouri roadways.
While not advocating a change to the law, Barragán-Scott said that parents should evaluate young drivers on a case-by-case basis and "maturity should determine" when teenagers begin driving.
Barragán-Scott cited her 16-year-old son Mason as living proof of her philosophy.
"He's not quite there yet," Barragán-Scott said, noting that her eldest son Drew, now 21, also had to wait to receive his license.
The main function of the Revenue Department is to collect state and local tax revenue as well as license and motor vehicle titling fees. For an 18-year-old, a three-year driver's license costs $22.50.
Barragán-Scott, 46, of Columbia became the permanent director of the state's Revenue Department on Oct. 16 after the department's previous director, Karen Mitchell, was named as a judge on the Western District Court of Appeals.
Barragán-Scott and her husband, Columbia psychologist Michael Scott, have three children and have been married for 23 years.
The couple met in a neuropsychology class while undergraduate students at MU. With a joint major in psychology and biological sciences, Barragán-Scott began her studies at MU intending to follow her father's footsteps into the medical field.
"I was always a science girl," Barragán-Scott said. As her studies continued, however, Barragán-Scott found that she was "not a very good memorizer" and began to look at other career options. Following a year as a graduate student with an undeclared focus, Barragán-Scott entered MU's Law School.
Coinciding with her passions for reading and writing, the Law School proved a perfect fit for the "analytical" post-graduate, Barragán-Scott said.
Melody Daily, a professor at the law school, remembered a young Barragán-Scott as "a brilliant, hardworking, talented writer."
Upon graduation in 1991, Barragán-Scott spent a year clerking for Judge William Billings and then took a position as the general counsel for the Revenue Department.
The position was "my first real job," Barragán-Scott said. "I had never had a tax case before."
She was named assistant attorney general in April 1993 by Gov. Jay Nixon just a few months after Nixon became attorney general. She held her position with Nixon's office until returning to the Revenue Department as its deputy director on Jan. 12, 2009 — when Nixon became governor.
Barragán-Scott said working with then-director Karen Mitchell was the impetus for the change.
"We had wanted to work together for some time," Barragán-Scott said.
Likewise, Mitchell said of her replacement: "I have tremendous respect for her. She's a great attorney and a great administrator."
Barragán-Scott cited the transition of a tax collection call center from an outside vendor to in-house center as a major achievement that occurred during her time at the department. According to her, the move produced the "same work for half the cost" and increased state revenue.