by Dave Mindeman
The MNLARS system has been a disaster. Trying to fix it with this legislature is an even bigger disaster.
When MN has a problem that needs addressing, we can never get it resolved because the Republican dominated legislature would rather milk the controversy than fix the issue.
This happened with the individual insurance market over a year ago. The premiums were out of control and a cash infusion was necessary to at least temporarily give some relief.
But Kurt Daudt and the House Republicans wanted to make sure that Dayton and Democrats got the proper amount of blame first. They let the problem drag out through the year (creating uncertainty for MN families about their health insurance) just so they could make maximum use of the issue for the election cycle.
And so it is with MNLARS. The Republicans want Gov. Dayton to grovel about it. To make sure there is public acknowledgement that his administration was to blame for the problem. But the MN GOP legislators are not satisfied with that. They want more and more public condemnation. They withhold money which is necessary to pay those working on the problem.
[i]On Tuesday, Minnesota National Guard Brig. Gen. Johanna Clyborne — the newly appointed commissioner for the state’s IT department, said delays by the Republican-led Legislature are prohibiting her from doing what she was hired to do: fix Minnesota’s beleaguered computer system for vehicle registration and titles.[/i]
She was requesting $10 million to keep repairs going – otherwise the entire endeavor would have to be halted.
But Republicans want to attach some strings…..
1) Requiring commissioners to testify — “under penalty of perjury” — whether the project is moving ahead properly based on a number of prescribed milestones.
2) Establishing milestones ranging from the obvious — “reduction in the backlog of vehicle titles” — to the fuzzy: “deputy registrar satisfaction.”
3) And forcing Dayton to take $10 million away from other departments.
Those “strings” amount to pettiness, pure and simple. They add nothing to the ability to fix this situation.
The legislature has a lot on its plate. This repair must occur, so delaying it by withholding funds is a disservice to the citizens of Minnesota.
But with Republicans, doing their job is secondary to partisan political points.
So, they want more discussion….
State Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, has introduced a bill that would “abolish” MNIT. The plan would make other departments at least consider contracting outside of state government for major computer projects in an effort to increase accountability. The plan would fold IT services under the direction of the Department of Administration, which currently oversees work ranging from purchasing to building maintenance.
One has to wonder if the “cheapskates” in the legislature really want to do this. Contracting outside vendors will be costly – and getting GOOD outside vendors will be even more costly.
The House Republicans are milking this. It is a dairy farm level of milking this.
At some point, MNLARS has to be fixed….and it would be if we had a responsible legislature.