ST. PAUL, MN – Minnesota’s new licensing and registration system, MNLARS, has been a statewide nightmare despite nearly ten years of preparation and $100 million in expenses. Many deputy registrars have had difficulty processing applications and Minnesotans have been unable to obtain car titles and tabs in a timely manner.
Now state government officials have told lawmakers to send another $43 million to the program in order to keep it operational, State Representative Greg Davids (R-Preston) is questioning that rationale.
“The administration owns this debacle,” Davids said. “They knew it wasn’t going to work three years ago. Now they want us to throw more money at the problem, and can’t even assure us that $43 million will fix it.”
The Dayton administration claimed to have no idea MNLARS was having problems. Yet a recent KMSP-TV investigative report found that three years ago a MNLARS analyst told the Governor’s Office directly that the program was not ready for launch, and warning signs of program failure were repeatedly ignored.
In response, lawmakers have introduced legislation that would allow the governor to reduce spending within his administration by $10 million in order to make the needed MNLARS down payment. It would give the governor authority to make reductions as determined by the Commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget in consultation with the Legislative Advisory Commission.
Another bill is also being introduced that directs the Commissioner of Public Safety to study the feasibility of using a commercial vendor to "develop, deploy, and maintain" a system to replace MNLARS.
Davids said the House should look at a plan to help those who have been impacted the most by the MNLARS mess.
“What we’ve done to deputy registars’ and the people of Minnesota is unconscionable,” Davids said. “We need a bill to reimburse our local deputy registrars for their added expenses due to the state’s incompetence.”