Ellen Spiegel wants to collect debt, help aspiring business owners as comptroller – The Nevada Independent


This is one installment in a series of “On the Record” articles highlighting the political positions of the candidates for the main offices in the 2022 election in Nevada. Check back in the coming days and weeks for additional coverage.

Former five-term Democratic congresswoman Ellen Spiegel says she has a big vision for the lesser-known job of state comptroller, which includes adding “quality control measures” to improve the speed and accuracy of transactions processed.

The comptroller is an accounting-focused member of the executive branch who acts as the state’s chief financial officer. The position has a four-year term and is responsible for processing and recording state financial transactions, registering vendors, settling claims against the state, and collecting debts owed to the state. State.

Spiegel is a small business owner, holds a degree in consumer economics from Cornell University, has a long history in financial services and helped develop e-commerce in the 1980s.

While in the Assembly, Spiegel served on the Ways and Means and Taxation Committees, which she says gave her valuable perspective on how the state’s money is handled. She also sponsored two gender discrimination bills, aimed at protecting equal pay for equal work, which were signed into state law in 2017. She also authored a bill in 2019 that makes mandatory health coverage for pre-existing conditions and gives consumers better access to specialists.

“[In the Assembly] I would talk to everyone to understand their issues and to see what we could do to reach some consensus. So we can move Nevada forward and we can do the right thing for the people of Nevada,” Spiegel said. The Nevada Independent in an interview. “It’s not a very easy thing to do. But I was able to learn a lot during my decade in power. And that’s the kind of stuff that will be very useful.

In the general election in November, she will face Republican Andy Matthews, who is in his first term in the Assembly. Below is a summary of his interview with The Nevada Independent:

His vision

If elected comptroller, Spiegel said she hopes to be able to make recommendations and propose programs that will help the state make better use of its assets.

One of his projects is the “Right Track Program”, an idea born after seeing some of his constituents struggling with unemployment and wanting to open their own businesses but not having the funds available.

“There were many times when I was at people’s doorsteps and said, ‘If you can’t get a job… You might have to think about starting your own business, so you can create your own opportunity’ “, she said. said. “But the thing is, if you’re unemployed or underemployed, you don’t even have the money for a business license.”

The Right Track Program, she said, would grant a free provisional business license for six months, provided business owners agree to be part of the mentorship where they can be advised and have “a greater likelihood to succeed”.

“In the meantime, people starting businesses won’t have to rely on unemployment benefits,” she said. “They won’t need to be on Medicaid. They will not need any kind of social services or many social services that they might otherwise need.

A year ago, Spiegel announced her candidacy for secretary of state, but by February she had changed her mind and moved on to running for office. Spiegel said she realized the “Right Track Program” would have a greater advantage in the controller’s office.

“When I started thinking about it and thinking about how important it is for the state to have a strong chief financial officer, it became something that really aligned with my experience,” Spiegel said. “And it’s a place where I can really add a lot of value.”

Spiegel said she wants to make sure the state has the resources it needs and enough funding for them, which can come from collecting debts owed to the state. With respect to dues payment enforcement, the 2021 Legislature passed AB482, which allows the Office of the Secretary of State to suspend the business license of a person who owes money to the state. .

The hopeful comptroller said it came down to the privilege of doing business in Nevada.

“I would also work with the attorney general’s office to make sure that we take care of what needs to be taken care of and that the force of law is actually enacted,” she said. “Just saying to someone ‘please pay your debts’ didn’t really work.”

She said increasing the collection of money owed to the state could pay dividends — literally — by providing more money for state priorities without raising taxes.

Asked if she thinks Nevada is ready for a recession as the Federal Reserve tries to control inflation by raising interest rates, Spiegel said “it depends.”

She explained that there’s still a lot of pent-up tourism demand — the state’s economy remains largely dependent on tourism — and month after month tourism and gambling numbers keep breaking records. If this continues, it will allow the state to have a “rainy day fund” to help in the event of a recession, she said.

“But at the same time, the state must also be able to live with its own budgetary needs,” Spiegel added. “[We need to] see how we can better manage the funds we have, because we do not have enough funds to meet the needs of the state.

As comptroller, Spiegel said she would hold roundtables with business owners, whether in person or virtually, to ask them directly how the state can better serve businesses and what they need.

“It’s not about telling them what we’re going to do for them. It’s asking them so we can be responsive,” she said. “Really understand… Because you have different issues in northern Nevada versus southern Nevada and rural Nevada. And the fact is, we need to make Nevada work for everyone.

Spiegel also hopes to use her background in technology to upgrade the controller’s state provider portal, which she considers difficult to use, outdated and cumbersome.

“You always have to think about the user experience,” she said, whether it’s reaching out to the community to pass legislation or facilitating the vendor experience with an updated portal. “I always went to my constituents and asked them what was important to them…And I think the government needs to be responsive to the needs of the people of Nevada.”

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