The latest example of taxpayer waste on a state government program is MNLARS, Minnesota’s new licensing and registration system. This computer program, ten years in the making, is supposed to do a better job of processing driver vehicle information and license tab data. It was rolled out in July and has been nothing short of a debacle.
So what has $93 million – double the original estimate – of your taxpayer dollars given you? A “half-built” system, is what administration officials labeled it in a recent transportation hearing.
It gets worse.
The Dayton administration claimed to have no idea throughout the past decade that 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.
Yet launch it they did, and now we have a half-baked system that has devastated deputy registrars across the state and put hundreds of thousands of Minnesota’s drivers behind the eight ball because of MNLARS’ failures. Chaos has ensued.
Governor Dayton has asked us to throw even more money at this problem. He wants another $43 million to “fix” MNLARS, including an immediate $10 million. Yet no one in the administration can assure us that money guarantees the problems will stop.
I serve on the Minnesota House Transportation Finance Committee, and we recently debated a pair of bills on this topic. The first would have simply handed over another $10 million, with no strings attached. That idea failed. A second plan would dedicate $10 million to continue fixing MNLARS, but also established numerous accountability measures for the agencies. It also required that $10 million be redirected from existing government operations, realizing that government failed Minnesotans so the government should pay for it. That measure was approved and moves along to another committee stop.
After wasting $93 million, Minnesotans deserve to have a drivers’ licensing system that works and serves them. We need to stop the notion that the people of Minnesota are here to serve government agencies with unlimited tax dollars because that’s not the way it works.
This MNLARS legislation recognizes that state government has failed and that it will find the money to make things right, rather than demanding you pay for its past mistakes.