By Pat Kessler

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — MNLARS says it needs $10 million in immediate emergency funds by Thursday.

The state’s newly appointed IT commissioner told state lawmakers Tuesday that if they don’t get the money, critical workers could be laid off or leave immediately.

“If I have to ramp down, even for a short period of time, it will have a snowball effect on my ability to ramp back up, in a timely and productive manner,” said Johanna Clyborne, the Minnesota IT commissioner.

The MNLARS computer system has so many glitches it can take months to get a simple car title or license transfer.

Privately operated license bureaus say they are losing so much business they are forced to borrow money just to keep their offices open.

“Mortgaging homes, using credit cards, doing whatever it takes to get the money in their offices right now,” said Prior Lake Deputy Registrar Kelly Davison. “Highly stressful right now.”

The cost of MNLARS has already ballooned to more than $100 million, and officials say the end cost could be a jaw-dropping $150 million or more.

And frustrated lawmakers say they were misled.

“We have invested $100 million to get a half-built system,” said Republican Rep. Paul Torkelson, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

Gov. Mark Dayton for months denied there were any problems with MNLARS, blaming Republican politics.

Now, he says he accepts responsibility.

“The buck stops here. People can blame me,” he said. “After they are done blaming me, the question is: What are we going to do to fix this?”

Here’s why a fix is urgent.

If MNLARS doesn’t get the $10 million by Thursday, state officials say it could jeopardize the rollout of Minnesota’s new Real ID licenses.

All Minnesotans have to have those new, high- security drivers’ licenses starting in October if they want to be able to board airplanes.

So when will the problems be fixed?

The $10 million MNLARs is currently asking for is just a down payment on $43 million it needs to fix the system’s fundamental problems.

Fixes for all the problems aren’t expected to come down until 2019.


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