When the February forecast revealed a small budget surplus, I immediately began talking to as many constituents as I could to get feedback on what we should do with it. As you can imagine, there was a wide variety of ideas.
The Minnesota Legislature will return April 9 from Easter recess, which means we are approximately one-third of the way through the 2018 session. Here is a quick recap of what we have been working on so far, and what you can expect for the remainder of session. MNLARS The MNLARS fiasco has been among our top priorities. This is Minnesota's new system for licensing and registering vehicle titles that was unveiled last summer, but because it was developed in-house by the administration, legislators and the general public were blindsided by the disaster.
Most people accept that in order for our republic to function, some level of taxation is required of citizens to provide the core functions of government. But over the last several decades, government's approach to taxation has gotten out of hand. Rather than ask the public to fund only the most crucial programs, government's wish list has been getting longer and longer and longer. This has meant regular folks like you and me are working harder than ever only to watch more and more money come out of our paychecks.
In the past, getting a vehicle title or new license plates was a minor hassle, but customers could generally count on the process running smoothly. That is no longer the case, thanks to the new Minnesota License and Registration System. Now we can only count on delays and frustration. What is MNLARS? Simply, it's our new system rolled out this past July to handle things like vehicle licenses and title transfers. It had been in development — mostly by MNIT, the state's technology agency — for nearly a decade at a cost of more than $90 million.
When the 2017 session began, I was one of 12 freshmen who were part of the new Republican majority in Minnesota Senate. Each of us ran for office in large part due to frustration with the lack of results and the constant bickering that was a hallmark of the previous Legislature, so we were committed to getting things done. We had a long to-do list when session began, but we checked off every item. It was one of the most productive sessions in recent memory. There's far too much to summarize in only one column, but here is what we did on a few of the big issues.