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Viewpoint: Don't blame deputy registrars for MNLARS

Tony Jurgens

Not long ago, I discussed the problems surrounding Minnesota's new licensing and registration system, MNLARS.

This new computer program is supposed to process titles, tabs and license plates in Minnesota. But since going online July 24, it has been a debacle for deputy registrars as there is currently a backlog of more than 200,000 applications waiting for approval.

We recently asked for an update on MNLARS from the Dayton administration and were shocked to hear that it needs another $43 million in order to fix the problems.

This is outrageous on several fronts. We're nearly 10 years into this program and the taxpayers have already spent nearly $100 million on it — double the original estimate. We were assured six months ago the early problems would be fixed, and that good progress was being made. No one said anything about needing more money.

Now, it's imperative that we throw another $43 million at this problem to establish some level of competency with this program? I'm sorry, but that doesn't make sense.

The Governor's Office has had seven years to identify any problems, change leadership, or simply change direction toward a functional computer program that could actually process applications.

We've yet to see anything that suggests Minnesota is on the path to success with MNLARS, yet we're supposed to believe that another $43 million will fix it when the first $100 million was wasted? It's safe to say I'm skeptical.

Let's also not forget other state systems such as the Minnesota Eligibility Technology System have some serious issues and need attention, and this continuing MNLARS problem isn't going to help.

I'll be sure to pass along more information as it becomes available, but in the meantime, please don't blame the deputy registrars as their hands are tied by this bureaucratic failure. I've talked to deputy registrars in our district who told me the state was warned not to go live with MNLARS as it wasn't ready for deployment, but the state didn't listen.

Local schools

In other news, I've been touring local schools over the past few weeks. Recently I visited Armstrong and Hillside Elementary schools, Cottage Grove Middle School and Park High School in the South Washington County District, along with JFK Elementary in Hastings, the Hastings Middle and High schools.

As a member of the House K-12 Education Finance Committee, it's helpful to visit the schools and see our teachers and students in action. My thanks to the superintendents, staff and students for setting things up and allowing me to visit.

I was pleased to meet with Hastings High School students Sydney Radke and Addie Buck recently to present them with Minnesota House resolutions that recognized them for their life-saving actions after finding a local resident unresponsive in his driveway. These young ladies are heroes and deserve every accolade they're receiving for their quick response.