It’s part of a series “on the record” highlighting the political positions of candidates running for key positions in the 2022 Nevada election. Check back for more coverage in the coming days and weeks.
Rep. Ellen Spiegel, a former five-term Democrat, said she has a big vision for the little-known state controller position, which includes adding “quality control measures” to improve the timeliness and accuracy of processing transactions.
The controller is the accounting-focused member of the executive branch who serves as the state’s chief financial officer. The position serves a four-year term and is responsible for processing and recording the nation’s financial transactions, registering suppliers, settling claims against the nation, and recovering debts owed to the nation.
Spiegel is a small business owner with a degree in consumer economics from Cornell University, a long working history in financial services and helping e-commerce grow in the 1980s.
While in Parliament, Spiegel served on the Ways, Ways and Taxation Committee, which she said gave her a valuable insight into the handling of state money. She also initiated two anti-sex discrimination bills aimed at protecting equal pay for equal work, which were signed into state law in 2017. She also drafted a bill in 2019 that would require health insurance for pre-existing conditions and give consumers better access to specialists.
“[In the Assembly] I’ll talk to everyone to understand their problems and see what we can do to come to some sort of consensus.So we can move Nevada forward and we can do the right thing for Nevadans,” Spiegel told Reuters nevada independent in an interview. “It’s not an easy thing to do. But I’ve learned a lot in the ten years I’ve been here. These are very helpful things.”
In the November election, she will face Republican Andy Matthews, who is in his first term in Congress.Below is a summary of her interview Nevada Independent:
If elected controller, Spiegel said she hoped she would make recommendations and come up with plans that would help the state make better use of its assets.
One of her plans is the Right Track Plan, an idea she came up with after seeing some of her constituents struggling with unemployment and wanting to start their own businesses but with no funds available.
“There are many times I’ve stood at people’s doors and said to them, ‘If you can’t get a job…you might want to think about starting your own company so you can create your own opportunities,'” she said . “But the problem is, if you’re unemployed or underemployed, you don’t even have the money to get a business license.”
She said the Right Orbit program would grant free temporary business licenses for six months, provided business owners agreed to participate in mentoring, they could be advised and “more likely to succeed”.
“At the same time, entrepreneurs don’t have to rely on receiving unemployment benefits,” she said. “They don’t need to enroll in Medicaid. They don’t need any type of social services or many of the social services they might need.”
A year ago, Spiegel announced her candidacy for secretary of state, but by February, she had changed her mind and entered the controller race instead. Spiegel said she realized the “right track plan” would bring greater benefits in the controller’s office.
“When I started thinking about this and started thinking about how important it is to the country to have a strong CFO, it became really aligned with my experience,” Spiegel said. “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 money that it can come from collecting debts owed to the state. On the enforcement of dues payments, the 2021 legislature passed AB482, which allows the secretary of state’s office to suspend the business licenses of those who owe money to the state.
Hopeful controllers say it comes down to the prerogative of doing business in Nevada.
“I’m also working with the attorney general’s office to make sure we’re dealing with what has to be done and that the force of the law is actually being implemented,” she said. “Just saying to someone ‘please pay off your debts’, It didn’t really work.”
She said increasing arrears to the state could pay dividends by making more money for national priorities without raising taxes.
Asked if she thought Nevada was ready for a recession and the Fed tried to keep inflation in check by raising interest rates, Spiegel said “it depends.”
She explained that there’s still a lot of pent-up travel demand — the state’s economy still relies heavily on tourism — and that month after month, tourism and gaming continue to break records. If it keeps up, she said, it would allow the state to have a “pre-emptive fund” to help in a recession.
“But at the same time, the state also needs to be able to live within its own budgetary needs,” Spiegel added. “[We need to] See how we can better manage the money we have because we don’t have enough money to meet the state’s needs. ”
As CFO, Spiegel said she will hold roundtables with business owners, whether in person or virtually, to ask directly how their country can better serve businesses and what they need.
“It doesn’t tell them what we’re going to do for them. It’s asking them so we can respond,” she said. “Really understood…because you have different problems in northern Nevada than southern Nevada and rural Nevada. The problem is, we have to make Nevada work for everyone.”
Spiegel also hopes to use her experience with technology to upgrade the controller’s status supplier portal, which she believes is unwieldy, 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 making the vendor experience easier with an updated portal. “I always go to my constituents and ask them what’s important to them…I think the government has to be responsive to the needs of Nevadans.”