On March 14, Governor Dayton gave his final State of the State address to members of the Minnesota Legislature. Generally speaking, he used his time to point out a number of positives over the past few years. But there were a pair of areas that I found were either completely ignored or could be interpreted differently.
First the governor mentioned the amount of people who are lacking healthcare coverage, saying that between 2015 and today the number of uninsured is greater than ever before. What he didn’t state is that the only thing that has changed between now and then was the establishment of MNsure, which he supported and worked to get passed.
The governor also noted he would like everybody to be eligible for MinnesotaCare and that competition is needed to control costs. The problem is, if everybody is forced into MinnesotaCare there is not competition since your employer’s health plan would no longer exist.
There also was no mention of MNLARS, Minnesota’s new and floundering licensing and registration system. With a horrible rollout in July and continued problems in approving titles and registrations in a timely fashion, MNLARS has been an abject failure. This program is under the supervision of the governor and directly overseen by the Department of Public Safety.
The governor is also asking us to blindly support the existing MNLARS plan – after already spending nearly $100 million on half a system – with additional finances to the tune of 40 percent more. That’s tough for us to do when we’re trying to hold the Department of Vehicle Services accountable for its oversight over this program, not to mention MN.IT, which took over after HP was fired.
DVS needs to take accountability for this failure, and while I would have liked for Governor Dayton to say we’ll do whatever we need to do to improve MNLARS, he chose to sidestep that issue.
Overall though, Governor Dayton had a positive message. Though he didn’t say it directly, he pointed to how successful Minnesota has been with some of the Republican policies that have been enacted into law. Hopefully, we will continue that trend this session. I am looking forward to working with the governor on the issues he has and has not raised with the solutions already moving through the legislature.