Friday, November 03, 2006

A Conversation With Nancy Wyman

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.”

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

I didn't notice anything about the state employees, specifically in the state universities, colleges & community colleges, that she totally screwed on their pensions causing the state to bid out to ING to handle it all costing the sate money to do HER job....

bluecoat said...

Wyman is also advocating legislation that sets up individual trust funds that people can contribute pretax dollars to be used for home health care.

She's advocating evil Health Savings Accounts?

Anonymous said...

Very good summary! Mrs. Wyman makes good points about the brass tacks of running her accounting department and Turfgrrl relays the information clearly for the layman. As far as ING goes, the funds available are diverse, some have excellent records and you can be agressive or conservative. State employees, like everybody else, have to take greater responsibility for their own retirement.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody know how many small business employees are actually insured under her MEHIP? She says a "small portion", but what does that mean interms of numbers?
My impression is that it's a pricey for the private sector.

bluecoat said...

The CBIA has a pretty decent rate and it could be better if the legislature and Rell would get rid of some of the more ridiculous mandates on what a policy in CT must cover. Big companies with ERISA(federal law) have an unfair compettitive advantage over smalll business because of state laws but nobody wants to ackmnowlwedge the issue.

cgg said...

Nice Interview.

Anonymous said...

Wyman's campaign website.

Anon 1004 said...

Anon 1025-

First off, before I get called a Cook staffer or something, I am a Democrat who is voting straight Dem aside from this race. I don;t work for the state but have more than a hand full of close friends that do, most for the University System.

You say, "As far as ING goes, the funds available are diverse, some have excellent records and you can be agressive or conservative."

Yup, and ING is laughing all the way to the bank because of her mismanagement. That aside, You miss the point. If it were not for the federal audit, CT could have potentialy been the next Enron, without the malice of course. She botched it up big time and didn't even know it. I'm not saying she hasn't done good things but this was a potentialy HUGE mistake. And the comment about "take greater responsibility" is so pig headed. When they were hired they were given a state pension. It isn't their job to decide how it is managed, all they want to kbnow is that it will be there when they retire.

Anonymous said...

She sounds like a man

Anonymous said...

anon 1004..Looks like we're going to cancel each other out. I'm a Republican voting straight R with the exception of Cook.

Anonymous said...

Why is Comptroller an elective office?

Anonymous said...

Great interview,

Bluecoat as for the homecare plan, some of us with elderly parents end up paying for their homecare so they don't have to go into nursing homes, at the end of the day the state saves money so they get their share. Sure would be nice if I could use the money before uncle sam and aunt jodie took thier cut.

Way to Go NANCY I'm all for that!!

bluecoat said...

the state constitution makes it that way but I am sure that's not the answer you wanted 12:51.

Anonymous said...

You don't want the Governor to tell the person incharge of the books how to balance them. Seems like an independent account is a good idea to me.

bluecoat said...

I have no problem with HSA's or even full deductablity of medical expenses by everyone but the Democrats usually see HSA's as evil. Just ask Diane Farrell.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1122

Didn't they say the same things about Social Security? Taking responsibility for oneself is a big difference between Dems and Republicans. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Anonymous said...

that's a silly statement by 1:04 but lots of folks don't understand how checks and balances do and don't work among the branches in state government. just ask former Chief Justice Sullivan.

Anonymous said...

PreTax dollars placed into an account sure sounds like health savings accounts to me. I'm surprised a Democrat would push them.