Nancy Wyman is running for her fourth term as State Comptroller. With the unprecedented interest in the Senate and Congressional races, it’s been a challenge for Wyman to run her campaign. While fundraising was tougher, Wyman notes that it was the more expensive ad time that was the bigger difference according to Wyman.
The comptroller’s office is responsible for the state payroll and bookkeeping. “It’s my job to report to the people of the state where their tax dollars are going and how we stand in the state financially. We report every month the deficit or the surpluses, a major portion of my job is to buy health care.” With 188 thousand people, the responsibilities rival a large corporation.
Wyman is proud of stewarding the transition of Connecticut’s antiquated IT infrastructure into a Peoplesoft/Oracle integrated system despite several challenges that dogged the migration. Under Rowland's first IT plan, his administration planned to outsource the department. Meanwhile the financial systems software used by state agencies was being abandoned by the technology companies that supported them. 5o different systems were being used to generate accounting records for state departments and none of them communicated with anything else or from one agency to another. Despite losing 2300 IT department people, the comptroller’s office had no choice but to proceed to new financial platforms. A Peoplesoft enterprise system was implemented shortly before Peoplesoft was acquired by Oracle.
Enterprise technology projects are never without challenges, yet Connecticut accounting books for 2004 and 2005 are now closed under the new systems, and Wyman says that as a result of the new platform, the state operates much more efficiently. “Every agency is on board right now, it was a bipartisan effort,” she explained.
Wyman advocated opening the state’s buying power in healthcare to small business, municipalities and not for profits. She described the program’s targets, “The Municipal Employees Health Insurance Program, what we have are 14 thousand people in the plan that either work for not for profit, some people that work for municipalities and a small portion that work for small businesses, which we are going to build on.”
Wyman sees that providing less costly healthcare plans to municipalities as a direct way to impact local property taxes and help small businesses to expand by keeping the prices down. Getting more of the 400 thousand uninsured healthcare insurance is way Wyman sees as reducing the demands being placed on the more costly emergency room health care. An RFP in January will be going out to help get more municipalities involved and encouraging them to buy their health insurance as part of a larger pool with the lower costs. Wyman stresses these programs are at no cost to the tax payer, but offer benefits in reducing operating costs.
And like the bonding information currently online, Wyman believes that open books should be available any citizen via the web. Wyman hopes that open books become available in the next year or two. She’s excited about the power of data where you can now see how agencies are spending their money and dig down the a granular level. In previous years, that level of detail wasn’t available to anyone. She hopes the Governor and the legislature use that power going forward.
The State Legislature still resists adopting her recommendation that Connecticut move to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. Currently the state used a method called modified cash accounting, where purchases are made against the promise of future revenues, which as practice hasn’t worked out all that efficiently. Ironically, state law imposes GAAP on municipalities.
Wyman is also advocating legislation that sets up individual trust funds that people can contribute pretax dollars to be used for home health care. Similar to the CHET program, the legislation would be a savings vehicle to address a specific expense, in this case addressing alternatives to relying on Medicare and being forced to enter nursing homes.
Reflecting on her tenure in office, Wyman said, “when I came into my office we were able to downsize our office, we’ve been able to pay our bills, and still do, … within 4 working days. We’ve changed the way we’ve done investments for our employees by cutting costs in their 457 plans. We’ve made government a lot more efficient.”