CBIA BizCast: State’s CFO Stresses Fiscal Stability
A lot of people may not know what Connecticut’s comptroller does, but Sean Scanlon is working to change that.
“Basically the comptroller is the chief financial officer of the state,” said Scanlon, who was elected to the office last November.
“We pay the bills, we negotiate all of the health insurance and retirement benefits for our state employees.
“And we sort of serve as the auditor of the state to make sure that we’re doing the right thing when it comes to our budget or our finances.”
Scanlon served eight years in the state legislature representing Branford and Guilford before running for comptroller.
He said he was inspired to get into politics after his parents divorced when he was six, and he watched his mother struggle as a single parent and small business owner.
“My mom really had no insurance as a small business owner, she would get sick and try not to go to the doctor and if she got sick, she would have to go and pay cash,” Scanlon said.
“The older I got, the more I realized that it was not just her, it was a lot of people, even a lot of CBIA members that you represent today, struggle with the cost of healthcare, they struggle with the cost of prescription drugs. and so that’s why I originally ran for office.”
After being elected comptroller, Scanlon said one of his first priorities was to ensure that the fiscal guardrails implemented in the bipartisan 2017 budget, remained in place.
Scanlon said those fiscal reforms drove five consecutive years of budget surpluses, the biggest rainy day fund in state history, and paying down almost $6 billion in state employee pension debt.
“Doing things that are important to CBIA, like looking at the pass-through entity tax, and things that we know that can keep the economy going in the right direction and jump start the economy, all of that is possible because we are now in this historically good position,” Scanlon said.
He compared keeping the guardrails in place to making sure his son keeps taking his medicine when he’s sick.
“Sometimes in politics in Connecticut, we get into problems because politicians are very short-sighted,” he said.
“They sort of say, well, we’ve solved that problem, now we can move on to the next thing. That’s what got us into this mess in the first place.”
State-Run Retirement Option
Raising awareness about MyCTSavings, the state-run retirement plan, is another big priority for Scanlon.
Businesses with at least five employees earning at least $5,000 annually are required by law to register with the comptroller’s office by March 30.
Those employers that do not offer a qualified retirement plan must enroll, while those that do should certify their exemption with Scanlon’s office.
Employees can opt-out of the program, while those that remain are enrolled in a Roth IRA, with the option to contribute.
Scanlon said 85% of the people they’ve created an account for kept it and began saving.
He added that employers can visit the MyCTSavings website, or connect with him directly if they have questions.
“I know that you have a lot going on, but if you can take the 10 minutes it takes to do this I guarantee you it’s an easy process, it’s a quick process, and your employees will benefit from this,” he said.
As the youngest comptroller in state history, Scanlon said he’s committed to doing things differently.
That includes using social media platforms to reach people and visit as many businesses and state agencies as possible.
Scanlon said he wants to talk to any employer about ways the state can help them and their employees.
“One of things I want to work with CBIA on is how are we going to define the next 10, 20, 30 years of Connecticut’s economy? And what can we do to prepare for that?” he said.
“A lot of that has to do with giving people the skills they need to get the new jobs of the future and training people to take on those roles.
“But it also is envisioning what can we all do together to make Connecticut go in the right direction.”
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