(TNS) — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Saturday vetoed $9 million in funds intended for vehicle license center operators who say they’ve lost at least twice that amount from a beleaguered new state computer system that processes vehicle titles and license plates.
Even though it had overwhelming bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, Dayton criticized the bill for not including funding to help fix the computer system, known as MNLARS, and criticized the source of the $9 million.
Deputy registrars, who run the license centers and have complained for months they’ve been hammered — financially — by MNLARS, never cared where the money came from.
But they definitely care that, with only a day left in the legislative session, they might not get any now.
“We are extremely disappointed that Gov. Dayton chose to veto this bill,” said Julie Hanson.
As property and customer service manager for Scott County, Hanson is one of those deputy registrars. There are more than 100 statewide. They include private businesses, as well as centers run by local governments.
“Minnesotans are going to see deputy registrar offices closing,” Hanson said. “This is going to be devastating to some. My heart breaks in particular for the private deputies. There are people putting bills on their credit cards who haven’t taken paychecks since August. We’re all still drowning.”
In a veto letter, Dayton said: “While I fully support reimbursing Minnesota’s Deputy Registrars for the financial losses they have incurred since the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS) rollout, I will not sign a bill that does not comprehensively address fixing the MNLARS system in addition to the reimbursement.”
That MNLARS fix amounts to somewhere between $22 million and $33 million, according to various proposals Dayton has made in the past few months. Some $22 million is included in a much larger bill that Republicans were pushing through the legislature late Saturday night. However, Dayton said he would veto that bill for a number of unrelated reasons.
Rep. Dave Baker, R-Willmar, the chief sponsor of the bill Dayton vetoed, said Dayton never mentioned his conditions.
“As chief author of this bill, the Dayton administration never contacted me to tell me of any issues with our bill language to provide relief for deputy registrars,” said Baker, who chairs the House Select Committee on Technology and Responsive Government. “He has apologized and taken responsibility for the mess, but is doing nothing to help people whose livelihoods he has hurt as a result of the MNLARS mess.”
The $9 million plan was approved by votes of 101-19 in the Senate and 46-20 in the House. That’s enough support to override Dayton’s veto, and Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, raised the notion in a floor speech on the Senate late Saturday night.
The prospects for such a move remained unclear as midnight approached. Possibly of note: election-year politics. All House members are facing re-election in November; no senators are.
©2018 the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.