February 27, 2018 06:49 PM
State officials say they need an emergency $10 million infusion to fix Minnesota's troubled new system for license plates and registrations. Republican lawmakers aren't ready to fork over more money.
The bungled summer rollout of the platform known as MNLARS has caused months of frustration due to errors and delays processing license tabs and title renewals. Fixing that system is a critical focus of the legislative session, but it could come with a big cost.
Officials overseeing MNLARS repeated their request for $43 million to a House committee on Tuesday. That includes $10 million in emergency funding this week to keep ongoing work on track.
Top Republicans who control the Legislature balked at the request. Rep. Paul Torkelson says lawmakers shouldn't "just shovel out money" after the problematic launch of MNLARS.
"It's really challenging for me, and I think the rest of the members of this committee to understand how we got into so much financial trouble so quickly," Torkelson said at a hearing of the House Transportation Finance Committee Tuesday.
Dana Bailey, executive director of the Minnesota IT Services office known as MNIT, apologized for the problems.
"I think there are a number of issues leading to the fact we do need additional funding," she told the committee. "First of all it is just the reality of the system that it still needs work. As I stated, it's half-built."
That response visibly agitated Torkelson.
"You have stated that we have invested a hundred million dollars to get a half-built system," he told Bailey. "Unbelievable."
The committee did not vote on the funding request. Instead, Republicans propose that Gov. Mark Dayton cut $10 million elsewhere in the executive branch to free up that money for MNLARS.
Democrats say Republicans are playing political games.
"We are now in the seventh month of this crisis," said Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul. "The Republicans have obsessively focused on problems while avoiding responsibility and problem-solving."
A Minnesota Senate committee will consider the MNLARS funding request on Wednesday.
The Associated Press
Updated: February 27, 2018 06:49 PM
Created: February 27, 2018 04:16 PM
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