Peggy Bennett: You didn’t break it — you shouldn’t pay to fix it

Published 6:55 pm Friday, March 29, 2019

Capitol Comments by Peggy Bennett

Peggy Bennett


Imagine receiving a letter like this:

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Dear Minnesota taxpayer,

We have already spent well over twice as much of your tax money as we had planned to develop the MNLARS (driver’s services) computer program that still doesn’t work right. We know that you’re frustrated because you are having to wait more than three times as long as you used to for many services, and because you are still unable to receive certain services you used to get easily. To attempt to solve this problem, we are going to tack some additional fees on to these services so you can pay more while getting worse service. We are doing this so we can (hopefully) fix this dysfunctional system that you did not break. We are sure you won’t mind us raising your costs to pay for our mistakes.


Your state government

Now this is not a real letter, but the question remains: Should you have to pay more to fix something you didn’t break? 

A senior citizen friend of mine in Albert Lea called me for help because he was upset that he couldn’t transfer his personalized license plate over to a truck he purchased. We found out that it would take months before he could do this, though in the past it has only taken a few weeks. Sadly, my friend passed away before he could ever use his special plate again. 

Another person had to travel from his home in Geneva to the driver’s license center in Albert Lea three different times over a two-week period to try to get the title on his car changed — and it still took many weeks to finally get that accomplished.

These issues were no fault of our hardworking license center employees. The culpability lies with MNLARS, the state’s new Department of Motor Vehicle Services computer program.  There are thousands and thousands of people throughout the state who have had huge headaches dealing with this dysfunctional system. Now we need more money to fix it.

Along with all Minnesota taxpayers, my two friends helped pay to build this more than $100 million computer program that still doesn’t work right. Now the Democrat plan would ask them — and all of us — to pay extra to fix this faulty program by adding a bunch of new fees for us to pay when we go to the license center. (By the way, will these extra fees ever go away after the program is fixed? They never do. We will just keep paying and paying.)

Friends, there is no way you should have to dig in your pocket for extra money to fix something you didn’t break. We have a budget surplus where we can find funds to pay for it, and that’s where the funding to fix this program should come from. As a matter of fact, I don’t know how we can even consider that we have a budget surplus when one reckons the many unfunded financial obligations that our state currently has, including fixing MNLARS.

How can legislators justify charging you extra to fix MNLARS, all so that they can go on a spending spree with the “surplus?” This is simply not right and not fair to taxpayers.

State Rep. Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea, represents Minnesota House District 27A, which includes almost all of Freeborn County, along with parts of Faribault, Mower, Steele and Dodge counties. She can be reached by phone at 651-296-8216 or by email at rep.