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Comptroller of Public Accounts

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    Michael Collier (D) Certified Public Accountant

  • Candidate picture

    Glenn Hegar (R) Small business owner, agribusiness

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    Ben Sanders (L) Financial IT Program Manager

  • Deb Shafto (G)

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Biographical Information

Length of residency in Texas:

Occupation/main source of income:

Education (include all degrees):

Highlights of current civic involvement/accomplishment:

Highlights of past civic involvement/accomplishment:

Previous public offices sought or held:

How much funding have you raised for your campaign?

Who are your top three contributors?

Have you ever been arrested or involved in any criminal proceedings? If so, please explain:

Have you ever been involved in any civil lawsuits or declared personal or professional bankruptcy? If so, please explain:

What is an example of how you led a team or group toward achieving an important goal?

What political leader do you most admire and why?

Why are you running for this office?

Why should voters choose you over your opponent?

What kind of accounting or efficiency background do you have? Is such a background necessary for this position?

Should the comptroller have a role in making sure Texas’ public pension plans are solvent? If so, how should this be done?

Is Texas’ tax system capable of meeting the state’s needs? If not, what would you recommend the legislature do differently?

In 2012, Texas was second in the country in uncollected internet taxes. The comptroller’s office eventually reached a settlement with Amazon.com, which began collecting sales taxes in the state, but other e-retailers without a physical presence here still are not. What can or should the comptroller do to address this issue?

What’s the most important duty of the Texas comptroller and how would you fulfill it?

What efficiencies would you like to see in the way the state operates? Please be specific.

How do you think the comptroller’s office handled the Texas Guaranteed Tuition Plan?

How would you rate the job performance of outgoing Comptroller Susan Combs? What has she done well, and what would you improve?

During Combs’ tenure, the comptroller’s office emphasized openness and transparency. Would you continue that emphasis, and, if so, through which steps?

City/Town Humble, TX 77347
Age 56
Campaign Phone Number (281) 883-4863
39 years, although during 2 of those years (1995-1997) I was on temporary assignment in New York and we lived in New Jersey.
I have been a CPA for many years. I worked for PwC in Austin, Dallas, New York, and Houston for 22 years, the last 10 of which as a partner. I served as Chief Financial Officer of Layline Petroleum, LLC in Houston.
I am a graduate of Georgetown High School in Williamson County and the University of Texas, where I received a Bachelor's of Business Administration - Petroleum Land Management and MBA, and played the trumpet in the Longhorn Band.
My life has been devoted to career and family. I am a member of the Financial Executives Institute and the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants. I support the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra. My wife volunteers at the local high school where our two sons graduated.
See above.
None
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
No
No
Across a 30 year career in business and accounting I held increasingly challenging and responsible positions.
I admire Abraham Lincoln above all. He had the intellect, integrity, and wisdom to provide moral leadership in a time of true human crisis.
As a financial executive and certified public accountant, I see a real need in society to have elected officials in office who can bring integrity and skill to the financial challenges we face. I am thoroughly dissatisfied with the quality of our political leaders in America in general, and I am thoroughly dissatisfied with the lack of transparency, integrity, and wisdom in Texas politics in particular as it relates to fiscal matters.

When I saw that Susan Combs was stepping down as our state's top accountant, that Republican politicians and no Democrats were vying for the job, I called the Democratic party to introduce myself and volunteer for service.

We are a very prosperous state, and yet we seem to struggle to find money for schools, roads and water infrastructure. A strong Chief Financial Officer who can get the numbers right will be a big help. For instance, if we had a Comptroller with financial skill and integrity, we would not have fired 11,500 teachers in the 82nd Legislature. I knew at the time, from my perch in business, that something was terribly wrong with our state's accounting. I was right. The cuts were not necessary. Whether it was politics or incompetence, I don't care. I want to take politics out and put competence in to the Comptroller Office.

The entire Comptroller's office is meant to be a watchdog for taxpayers, and not just a tool for big business and wealthy contributors who frustrate the democratic process. I believe we need someone in the Comptroller role who will be fiercely independent, not a career politician, who has the financial skill and experience to hold the legislature accountable.
I am not a politician, I am a certified public accountant with 30 years of experience working with the largest and most complex companies in Texas and around the world. I am running for the job to take politics out, and put competence in, to the Comptroller's office. I am fiercely independent and will serve as a true watchdog for Texas taxpayers. I believe we must increase investment in education at all levels and I view my job as to make this possible financially without raising taxes. I think we should fix the property tax system, which is broken, rather than scrap it and raise sales taxes to 20-25%. And I believe the Comptroller should run the Performance Reviews (which I will rename "Accountability Audits") rather than have the Legislature audit its own work.

My opponent is a career politician with no training or experience in accounting or finance. His only experience outside the family farming operation is serving in the Legislature which, in his own words, does not qualify him "in any way shape, form or fashion to serve as Comptroller". He believes we should not fix the property tax (he had a chance to fix it in the last legislature but he killed the bill as a favor to his campaign contributors); rather, he believes we should replace the property tax with a 20-25% sales tax. He does not think we should invest in public education; when it came to putting more money into education in the 83rd Legislature he said "I am not ashamed to say we didn't. I was proud that we did not." Finally, he voted to take Performance Reviews away from the Comptroller many years ago and has said he would only do them if the Legislature made him.
My 30 year career with business, first as an employee at Exxon, then (with PwC) as an auditor, as executive assistant to PwC's World Chairman, as a partner building PwC's merger and acquisition due diligence practice, and finally as CFO of Layline Petroleum, is steeped in accounting and efficiency. I would say that those two words describe the bulk of my professional life, career and capabilities. The Comptroller is the state's chief financial officer. Accounting, control and efficiency are the essence of the job.
The promise of a pension is sacrosanct. We must not, ever, break that promise. I will fight as hard as I can to make sure the state does right by its employees and honors its pension obligations. Yes, we should take the steps necessary to ensure the pension funds are solvent. The Comptroller cannot vote to appropriate funding into the trusts; but the Comptroller has a voice and must inform Texans so that they hold their Legislature accountable. I call this real leadership, and that's exactly what I plan to bring to the job.
We are a very prosperous state. The oil and gas renaissance has opened up many possibilities for improving public education, transportation and water infrastructure without raising taxes. I believe we can do much more, and I do not believe we should raise taxes.

What we need is a Comptroller who gets the revenue forecasts right so Texans and our leaders know just how much money we have. I will reform our state's accounting so that we revise our estimates and publish very readable and understandable figures every three months, just as large corporations do. We are running extraordinary surpluses again, more than $7 billion I predict, and yet our leaders are not factoring that into our investment formulas for public education. Also, a Comptroller who understands the arcane world of big-company tax accounting can be much more effective in going after the bad guys and collecting all the taxes than, say, a rice farmer who isn't all that interested in the job to begin with or who doesn't want to hurt his chances for higher office. Finally, when we bring back the Performance Reviews (changing the name to Accountability Audits) we could very well see the same kinds of multi-billion savings that Comptroller John Sharp found when he did them many years ago.

In summary, there are many, many avenues a skilled and independent Comptroller can go down to ensure we have the funds we need to invest in education at all levels without raising taxes. I have no doubt we can do so much better.
Not collecting taxes from out-of-state internet merchants is unfair to Texas-based brick-and-morter and internet merchants alike. It is also unfair to consumers, unbelievable as it may seem. Fact is, if we found a way to subject all transactions to sales tax, not just in-state merchant sales, we'd have a much larger transaction base and could conceivably reduce the tax rate on a revenue neutral basis.

To be clear, I've seen conflicting reports as to whether this latter benefit (i.e., reducing overall sales rate to achieve revenue nuetrality) is large enough to be worth talking about. But the benefit of solving the internet sales tax conundrum to Texas merchants is very real and so we should work on this.

The way forward is to provide leadership at the federal level because this can only be done in concert with the 50 states. Rather than whine like an adolescent about the Federal government, perhaps our Texas political leaders should grow up and recognize that as the most important state in American we can provide leadership to make things work. Leading on the question of internet sales taxation is something I intend to do, to protect our Texas-based merchants from an unfair tax scheme.
Above all, Texans have to trust the skill, integrity, and independence of the Comptroller. I will reform the agency to achieve this (my complete agenda can be found at www.collierfortexas.com/reform). With skill, independence and integrity imbued through the entire office, Texans will find that we have the funds to do much better in public education without raising taxes, our property tax system (and all tax systems for that matter) will be as fair as we can make them (rather than tilted as far toward campaign contributors as the politicians can get away with), we'll snuff out the cronyism that has made Rick Perry such a memorable character, and we'll use the Accountability Audits to give Texans the confidence that we're doing everything we can to protect their hard earned money from fraud, waste and abuse.
This is too important for guesswork. Until I have assembled The Texas Accountability Team and we start our audit work, I can only speculate. That said, I share every Texan's point of view that to the extent we use Texan's hard-earned money to support education, it needs to go into the classroom (i.e., teacher compensation must be fair, class sizes must not be too large, specialists should be used in the classroom as needed, and programs that prepare children to learn such as nutrition programs should be funded). Our money should not be siphoned off in bloated administrative budgets and under-the-table contracts that benefit the contractor and not the children. We also should invest in career readiness, so that our industries have the skilled workers they need to fuel growth.
The original plan, the Texas Tomorrow Fund, was designed long before there was talk of allowing tuition in Texas to go through the roof. Once deregulation took hold, tuition sky-rocketed and the Trustees were forced to renege on certain promises.

As for the Comptroller's handling of the Plan, I'm not sure she had any choice. The plan had to survive in the face of rapidly rising tuition. The real question, in my view, is what do we as Texans want in terms of public support of higher education. I hope we have a robust public discussion on this very point.
I've not had the pleasure of meeting Susan Combs although I'm sure one day I will and I suspect I will find her to be a fine person and a dedicated public servant. But I do not give her good marks as a Chief Financial Officer and I do not think we would be wise as Texans to have another career politician without any accounting training for experience follow her. We did not have to fire 11,500 teachers. We continue to have enormous surpluses and yet we are under-funding public education. We had a security lapse involving 3.5 million Texans. We are showing signs at the state level that we are addicted to debt and yet she remains silent. I have read far too many articles in the newspaper about this crony deal or that one gone bad and she has been silent and not energetic in being our watchdog.

In short, a career politician lacking skill and strength, and determined to climb the party ladder by "going with the flow" is not what Texas needs right now. We need just the opposite. We need a fiercely independent, non-political, certified public accountant, whose aspiration is shaking things up and making the Comptroller office a true financial watchdog for taxpayers.
Susan Comb's wisely started us down this path and I applaud her. I will certainly continue this, but I will take it to a whole new level.

Texans need to know where we stand financially, and I will issue a readable, comprehensive financial update every quarter, just as we do in business. That way Texans will see that we are prosperous enough to do much more in education without raising taxes.

I will help Texans monitor our property tax system and help ensure the legislature takes the steps needed to make it fair again for homeowners and small businesses.

I will help Texans understand the implications of tax policy so that they can inform their senators and representatives of their policy preferences. For example, if the Legislature is going to pound its chest and take credit for tax cuts, I want Texans to know just who received those cuts (my opponent, for example, says on his website he drove $1 billion in tax cuts but he didn't mention that ordinary Texans didn't receive a thin dime).

If the legislature wants to give money away because we have surpluses, I will make sure Texans know the extent of underfunding of critical infrastructure including education, so they can decide whether they really want to dig a hole for ourselves by underfunding education, roads and water infrastructure.

I will keep Texans informed of our debt levels, not just at the local level where Comb's always wags her finger, but at the state level where Combs was utterly silent while we racked up debt (including unfunded pension liability) at a much faster pace than the growth in our economy or our population.

In short, as a true Chief Financial Officer working for ordinary Texans, rather than an amateur working for the political hierarchy, I will take transparency to a level not seen in Texas in many, many years and certainly not possible if my opponent takes the helm.
City/Town Austin, Texas
Age 46
Campaign Phone Number (512) 391-1619
Email Address glenn@glennhegar.com
My entire life (43 years)
Small business owner, agribusiness
Bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University, Masters Degree from St. Mary’s University, Law Degree from St. Mary’s University
Serving the constituents of Senate District 18

Senate Sponsor of HB 3430 (80th Legislature)

Senate Sponsor of HB 500 (83rd Legislature)

Senate Sponsor of HB 2 (83rd Legislature Second Called Session)
2013 Defender of Freedom Award (NRA), “Courageous Conservative” by Texas Conservative Coalition, 2013 Perfectly Pro-life Award (Texas Right to Life), 2009 Legislator of the Year Award (Texas State Rifle Association), Champion of Free Enterprise Award (Texas Association of Business), Civil Justice Leadership Award (Texans for Lawsuit Reform), Legislative Excellence Award (Texas Municipal Police Association), Star for Rural Texas (Texas Farm Bureau)
Former Texas State Representative District 28 (2003-2008), current Texas State Senator (2008-present)
$3,474,815.64 with 0 loans made to the campaign
N/A
No
Yes, there was a civil lawsuit in 2002, Kniss v. Hegar, brought by a former campaign employee. Judgment was rendered in favor of the defendant, Glenn Hegar, and the case was subsequently dismissed.
During the 82nd legislative session, as a freshman senator, I was appointed Chairman of the Sunset Advisory Commission, the agency charged with periodically reviewing and streamlining government agencies. Working with staff at the sunset commission and with other legislators, we successful reduced inefficiencies and waste in various agencies i.e. the elimination of the Texas Residential Construction Commission.
Winston Churchill. He was a leader at a very difficult time in history and was unwavering in the principles he believed in.
According to the census Texas is growing faster than any other state and our population will double over the next 20 plus years. As our state continues to grow, there will be more burdens placed on state infrastructure like roads, water, and our public education system. All of these areas will create budget pressures for the State. With that in mind, in order to keep Texas on a strong economic trajectory, we must continue to be vigilant on reforming our state spending, reducing debt, and keeping the size of government small. We must foster a strong business climate that continues to create jobs and attract people to Texas. I am running for Comptroller because there needs to be someone in the office who will provide that strong, fiscal leadership.
I am confident that Texas voters will thoughtfully review each of the candidate’s records in this race. I feel my record in the legislature reflects first that I am grounded in my conservative principles, and second that I have the necessary skills, experience, and leadership to actually get things done. I am running for Comptroller to provide strong, fiscal leadership to the office, and I am hopeful that after voters review my record they will see in me the necessary qualities to do just that.
First, I have served on the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. The Comptroller serves as the state’s Chief Financial Officer, so it is absolutely critical that he or she has a fundamental understanding of how the entire budget process works. Additionally, during the 83rd legislative session, I served as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Fiscal Matters, which was charged with reviewing all state and local revenue matters. Throughout this extensive assessment process not only did I learn about the Texas tax code that the Comptroller’s office is responsible for administering, I am proud to say that the analysis done by this committee resulted in about $1 billion in tax cuts for Texas taxpayers and businesses. Finally, I previously served as Chairman of the Sunset Advisory Commission. As chairman, my sole duty was to identify and eliminate waste, duplication, and inefficiency in government agencies. I will take my sunset review experience to improve the day-to-day operations and efficiency of the Comptroller’s office. In my opinion, experience in these areas would help a Comptroller in reforming our state government.
Absolutely. One of the Comptroller’s most important responsibilities is to chart the probable course of the Texas economy since that course will affect the taxes that fund state and local governments. One of the many factors that have an impact on the economy is the health of public pension systems. Millions of Texans rely on these pensions for their retirement income, but unfortunately, many of these pension systems were hit hard during our most recent economic recession. As a result, some very large public pensions are facing financial obstacles that threaten the well being of both the retirees who rely on them and the government budgets that help fund them. Fortunately, Texas has weathered the recession better than any other state so our state public pension systems are more stable than most. However, there are some systems at the local level that face significant challenges and must be monitored and prudently reformed to ensure their future stability - not only for the retirees who depend on them - but for the taxpayers who are left holding the bag if they collapse.
The current system of taxation is sometimes inefficient, unfair, and relies too heavily on an antiquated system of property tax collection. While I prefer a shift to more of a consumption based tax system, know that we are many years away from being able to implement such. One component of our property tax system that we can reform now and absolutely needs to be reformed is the appraisal process, along with the state’s margin tax. Both are too burdensome on taxpayers and need significant reform.

I am also concerned about the budget maneuver of sweeping so-called “dedicated accounts” – accounts created and funded with taxes and fees for a specific purpose – in an effort to balance our state’s budget. As Comptroller, I will commit to leading efforts with the legislature so that we can move away from dedicated accounts and towards truth in budgeting.
Currently, Texas law states that businesses must have a nexus (meaning a link or tie) to the state in order for these taxes to be due. This discussion of taxing online retailers has evolved over the last several sessions, and there are many proposals at the federal level being debated and studied. I will say that I am very sympathetic to the concerns of traditional, brick and mortar businesses about the fairness of how the tax law treats them vs. newer e-businesses. Currently, the federal government is studying this issue to determine whether rules should be uniform across state lines. In the age of the Internet, issues like this one will be ongoing and will have to be dealt with as technology continues to evolve. The Comptroller should serve as a resource to the legislature in all matters of tax policy, and if the legislature sees fit to expand our current laws, I will serve as a resource and help implement the changes.
First and foremost, the Comptroller is the chief steward of the state’s finances, acting as tax collector, chief accountant, chief revenue estimator, and chief treasurer for all of state government. After listing all of these important responsibilities, I think the key word here that we should really be focused on is “steward”. Every day as Comptroller I commit that I will come to work with the sincere belief that the money I’m charged with managing is not my money, not the government’s money, but the people of Texas. I think understanding that simple fact is crucial to conducting my duties successfully, and more importantly with integrity.
As I travel the state, the thing I hear most from Texans is that they are frustrated by a government that is too large and inefficient at all levels – federal, state, and local. I understand this frustration, and if elected Comptroller, I commit to reducing the size of government and streamlining as many processes as possible. I will start this process within my own agency using my experience as a small business owner and the skills I gained as Sunset Commission Chairman to improve the operation of the Comptroller’s office. I will initiate an extensive review of all CPA programs and ultimately eliminate the shiny objects that distract from the real objective of the CPA while at the same time streamlining the agency.
The Texas Guaranteed Tuition Plan was a prepaid higher education tuition program created in 1995 that is now closed to new enrollment. The plan was closed and restructured due to concerns it was underfunded, partially due to the new policy of tuition deregulation that caused tuition prices to increase significantly in the early 2000’s. There have been 3 different comptrollers since this program was created, so in my opinion it is impossible to lay criticism specifically on any one office. I think the bigger problem with guaranteed tuition plans in general is that during a time when college tuition is escalating so quickly, it’s not practical for the government to be in the business of tuition payment programs since taxpayers are on the hook if those programs fail. Parents, in my opinion, are better suited than government to plan and fund for the education of their children.
Susan has done an admirable job as Comptroller for the State of Texas. Her pioneering work in transparency and open government is a model for the nation. As I mentioned earlier, I do plan to oversee a top to bottom review process of the agency if elected since any government entity, especially one as large as the comptroller’s office, is always in need of periodical review and reform. Specifically, based on my own personal interactions with the Comptroller’s office and input from my constituents, I believe there is room for improving customer service and the way the agency interacts with businesses to resolve their grievances.
I wholeheartedly support what Susan Combs has done to increase transparency at both the state and local level. I have publicly committed to continuing these efforts if elected comptroller. During the 84th legislative session, I want to be active in the legislative process to implement reforms that provide information to taxpayers. I want to push legislation during the next session that will increase transparency at the ballot box regarding state and local debt figures. Unfortunately, a bill that would have done so during the last legislative session was killed by special interests. I passed this same bill out of my subcommittee in the Senate.
City/Town Irving
Age 41
Campaign Phone Number (469) 262-6050
Fax Number (469) 262-6050
Email Address ben@vote4sanders.com
As a child during the summers, I use to visit my Great-grandparents in their home in Harlingen. This is where I first developed my love of Texas. In 2005 I finally got the chance to move to El Paso to pursue a love interest and for the first time in my adult life truly felt like I was home and among friends. I lived, and worked in Texas until April of 2011 when the US Army asked me help them solve their relocation problems and they moved me to Redstone Arsenal to oversee the migration/relocation of computer systems for the US Army Contracting Command. In 2013 when my contract with the army was over I returned home to Texas. Though I am not as fortunate as some to be a Texan by birth, I am a Texan by choice. For almost a decade I have been proud to call Texas home.
Program Manager for a privately held custom computer software company in Irving, TX http://www.apptricity.com/
Bachelors of Science - Chemistry Master of Science - Computer Science Doctor of Business Administration - Applied Computer Science

Certified Contracting Officer's Representative - Defense Acquisition University Certified Records Manager - National Archives and Records Administration
Freemason Philanthropist Ordained Minister
NASA White Sands Test Facility IT Application Committee, Co-Chairman, Author of Charter. NASA Johnson Space Center Information Technology Working Group , Member. Appointed to the White House, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Information Technology Governance Counsel for NASA, 2011. Sat on the Budget Line of Business Collaboration Work group for NASA and the DOD. Recipient of NASA's "I am an Innovator" award, 2010, 2011. NASA White Sands Test Facility Stem's Education outreach Chairman for 2010, 2011 NASA Astronaut Candidate 2013 Best of Army Knowledge Online, 2011, for best Web Viewer Channel Armyhire.com named Army's best website 2013 winning the Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware Public Affairs Award Third Place in President's 2010 SAVE award
None
$650
Freeman Sawyer - Contributor Billy Bonner - Contributor Gary Capik - Contributor

I have spent $5,147 funding most of the campaign through my personal finances, friends and family. It was important to me that people knew they have a choice, that I am willing to spend my own money to get the message out there. There are alternatives and there are solutions so long as we don't vote straight ballots, and we work together. Together we can win this! http://www.vote4sanders.com/contribute
No, as a Freemason and Minister these things would be unthinkable.
No
I am a two time recipient of NASA's prestigious "I am an Innovator Award", more men have walked on the surface of the moon than have ever received this award twice in their career.

My first award was in creating a real time financial project management system. Managing projects efficiently has been as challenge at NASA, though arguably they are one of the best of all the Federal Agencies when it comes to budget management. It is difficult because required data was scattered across various database and often was not current. The problem was solved by interfacing the different databases and consolidating the data in one location. The system that was created was able to generate real-time spending reports that allowed project managers to track purchases, service costs, and hours charged to their projects. NASA-White Sands Test Facility which was consistently over budget by $1.2 million. The first year this system was implemented the budget overage was $74 thousand, and the books were balanced and closed for the first time in one day. To this day NASA White Sands Test Facility has not has a single project go over budget without prior knowledge of a shortfall.
Ronald Reagan

I was young and impressionable as I listened in awe to his masterful speeches. It was not until much later that I gained sufficient insight to realize that this monumental figure had feet of clay due to the bureaucracy.

I do not believe Ronald Reagan was a cynic. I think that in some way he really, truly believed in everything he said, even when he got it all wrong. For all the wrong directions he took us in however, there were some genuine achievements in his administration:

A) He changed the way government did business. From Johnson's Great Society to Nixon's authoritarianism to Carter's well-intention bumbling we had developed a bloated, inefficient, unwieldy, self-perpetuating federal bureaucracy. Reagan reduced and streamlined the federal agencies (some of which admittedly should not have been cut), effected regulatory reform and returned some power to the states. While this had mixed results, it was not a trivial thing.

B) He recognized not only the inherent evils of Soviet-style Communism, but also its built-in weaknesses. He was able to understand that with a few well-placed nudges in the right direction the Soviet bloc would collapse under its own weight. Reagan did not by any stretch of the imagination bring about the collapse single-handily, but he was certainly instrumental in Communism's demise.

C) We should not take so lightly people's statements like "He restored my faith in America", because that in of itself was quite an accomplishment. Someone who was not around during that time might fail to realize the high level of malaise that was so prevalent. Much like there is today. There had been the horrors of Vietnam, the endless cold war, the dark paranoia and outright criminality of Nixon, the seeming ineffectiveness of Carter, the was a recession going on and inflation was running amok. The 70's were not good times. Reagan changed that. He imparted a sense of confidence and esprit to the nation. He was the first president since JFK to put a positive note into the public discourse.

For better or for worse, Reagan had that elusive quality known as "leadership". As Texas Comptroller I am qualified and ready to lead.
I want to be the next Comptroller of Texas because America and Texas are at a pivotal crossroads. My previous work experience includes positions at NASA and the U.S. Army. I hold degrees in biochemistry, computer science, and a doctorate in Business Administration. I am qualified and ready to lead.

Our liberty and economic well-being will be lost if we do not act swiftly to maintain our sovereignty. I appreciate the fiscal dangers and hardship of my fellow Texans, and I have a plan to restore Texas. I am the only Comptroller candidate who has willing released their Tax Returns. If you can't trust and believe in your Comptroller to claim their Taxes correctly and honestly, how can you trust them to manage your money for the State of Texas.
I've trained my entire life for this position. During my years at US Army, I honed my skills in leadership, through fairness, integrity, and honor and will instill those values in the eighteen Field Offices across Texas. As Comptroller I won't use scare tactics against my fellow Texans to control them. I will however always tell you the truth no matter how unpleasant it might be. I'm not going to Austin to make friends who can help my political career, because I don't have one. The only office I am interested in that of Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. In the comptroller's race, Libertarian Ben Sanders was the only hopeful to provide tax returns. If you can't trust the Comptroller to faithfully fill out their Tax Return and Public Financial Disclosure form, how can you trust them with your tax dollars? I am qualified and ready to lead. http://www.texastribune.org/2013/12/05/most-statewide-candidates-wont-release-tax-returns/
I hold Doctorate in Business Administration and my thesis draft was used in part as the foundation of CIO of the United State of America Vivek Kundra's "25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal Information Technology Management" In my thesis I showed how with a little out side the box thinking the Federal Government could save $4.9 billion annually and reduce PC kilo Watt hours consumption by 520 million. That is more electrical power than the annual consumption of 27% of the world's nations.
Details on state and local pension plans in Texas as reported to the Pension Review Board and submitted by each plan in response to a public information request from the Comptroller’s office. The Texas Comptroller should have no role in the Texas’ public pension plans other than reporting their fiscal information in an effort to be transparent.

Currently the Local and State pensions have an unfunded liability of $53,849,110,848 that's more than the entire Texas Appropriations ($52,330,160,968) for 2014 & 2015 once you remove Education and Health and Human Services. Which means currently the pensions don't have the money to pay what is due all the pension holders. To understand how we got to this point we first must understand history and take quick trip back for those who may not be familiar or don't remember. In our not so distance past teachers, police, firefighters and other civil servants were used as political pawns by nefarious politicians. These unscrupulous politicians would upon election terminate employment of those teachers, police, and firefighters who did not vote for them or dared to speak out in opposition and replace them with those more loyal. This was common place enough that the formation of teacher, police, and firefighter unions were established in a measure to protect these civil servants from this admonish behavior. Today the circumstances that once gave rise and need for these organizations are protected with State and Federal labor departments, in addition to agency Human Resources.

As Texas Comptroller I would strongly advocate that all government employees be given the same right to influence their future and retirement as any other citizen through the implementation of 401k or IRA systems. Over the long haul, 401k's produce more money at retirement than traditional private-sector pension plans, new research suggests, though the risks are obviously higher. With 401k's and IRAs people to end up with more money at retirement than they would with a traditional private-sector pension plan, according to a study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington. In addition to great return on investment the fund of a 401k or IRA are available to the employee for life events such as buying a home, children's tuition, financial emergency, and can follow someone from job to job without being having to be fully vested or pay annual dues.

Detroit's Bankruptcy Should Be A Warning To Every Worker Expecting A Pension, Or Social Security. Remember the Texas Local and State pensions have an unfunded liability of almost $54 billion. Detroit owed somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 billion to over 100,000 creditors. One group of creditors particularly wary of a municipal bankruptcy is Detroit’s public sector labor unions. They fear a bankruptcy judge might allow the city to cancel or reduce their pension or retiree health benefits. The unions have a lot of law on their side, but they are still right to be worried. More importantly, this situation should serve as a warning to every person expecting to retire one day and collect a pension or other retirement benefits: do not trust other people with your future.

By affording the civil servants the same 401k and IRA that is available to everyone else, and outsourcing the administration and management of these funds to companies like USAA, Vanguard, Fidelity, and others, it will create an annual budget reduction of $1,755,014,356 by eliminating the pension administrative overhead, while maintaining retiree insurance benefits. This $1.7billion cost reduction is the same amount we spend annually on the school lunch program, and we've eliminated the liability of the state and empowered people to have control over their own lives. Not to mention if local municipalities follow suite the cost reduction and lessened tax burden we will all feel.

As Texas Comptroller I will work to give you the right to retire on your terms and control your own future.
Absolutely the current tax system is more than capable of meeting the state's needs. As I have said countless times we first have to fully understand what it is we are spending our money and why. Once we have a clear understanding of that, then we can move to a reducing our budget. After we've reduced our collective expenditures in the budget we can move to reduce taxes for everyone. In my own July 6, 2014 Texas Tribune Trib Talk article I sum it up. "Reforming property tax regulations is not just about treating Texas citizens with honesty and openness. It also forces government to begin the hard work of reining in unnecessary expenditures and finding efficiencies to live within its means." http://tribtalk.org/2014/07/06/a-libertarians-take-on-property-taxes/
As Texas Comptroller I would immediately order Amazon to stop collecting sales tax for the residents of the State of Texas, and apologize profusely for the confusion and misunderstanding. Let me explain why an Internet sales tax is such an incomprehensibly bad idea. If the economy is to get stronger, charging consumers more when they're already struggling to afford goods and services is not a wise move. Even brick and mortars won't win. Here's why.

This is not a time to add a 6% to almost 9% price increase to the purchasing of goods. A tremendous number of people buy online, and by increasing their costs across the board, tax revenue won't go up nearly as much as sales will go down. Here's how the economists look at it: Sales tax revenue is just one component of the overall economy; everything is interconnected. If sales tax income goes up, but overall tax income goes down because (a) people are spending less, (b) companies go out of business, (c) fewer companies start up, and (d) people lose their jobs, the net tax income will actually be less.

And that's just what will happen if we get an Internet sales tax. It will result in further damaging our economy while also causing the loss of jobs while also causing the state to collect less revenue, not more.

It's not just that consumers will buy less online if their purchases are taxed. It's that operating an online store that deals with sales tax accounting is a very non-trivial task.

There are 50 states, almost all of which have individual sales tax rates. Worse, there are hundreds (possibly thousands) of local tax rates across the country. For an online retailer to sell in an America with an Internet tax rate, sales taxes will suddenly have to be collected for all of these jurisdictions.

Even that's not so bad. Good shopping cart software can track rates based on ZIP code.

Where it gets bad is reporting. Filing sales tax reports for hundreds or thousands of jurisdictions, each with their own different forms and filing rules, can become incomprehensibly complex. Small online retailers won't be able to keep up.

Of course, the large online retailers, like Amazon, will have the IT resources to build out tax management into their systems. As a result, Amazon will get stronger at the expense of small online retailers.

Now, here's the biggest irony: Who are the small online retailers? In many cases, they're stores that have also set up shop on the Internet. They showcase their inventory, not only in their brick and mortar storefront, but in their online store as well. With complex, convoluted Internet-based sales tax in place, these local brick and mortars will have to close their online stores and concentrate only on local sales.

Amazon will once again be strengthened at the expense of local brick and mortars.
As the guardian of the state’s finances, the Comptroller serves every citizen of the state. Legislators rely on the Comptroller’s office to chart the course of the Texas economy, produce annual financial reports and estimate future state revenues. State agencies trust the Comptroller to pay their bills and issue paychecks to their employees. Local officials and businesses look to this office for economic development guidance and data analysis. And all Texas residents depend on our agency to safeguard their tax dollars and ensure that they are handled wisely. Drawing on my experience as the Financial IT Systems Administrator for NASA, I will publish an easy to understand budget that follows graphically the organizational chart of the State of Texas. Because it should never be uncertain where the taxpayer's money is being spent.

The Texas Comptroller's office serves the state by collecting more than 60 separate taxes, fees and assessments, including local sales taxes collected on behalf of more than 1,400 cities, counties and other local governments around the state.

As Texas' Cornerstone for Growth. The Comptroller's office administers the state's 529 plans and promotes local economic growth by identifying and fostering work force development initiatives across the state. The Comptroller's goal is to give all Texans a chance to succeed. This is accomplished through a variety of programs. Some programs help young Texans explore careers, others provide tools and resources to help parents save and pay for future careers and offer all Texans a way to contribute to those higher education dreams. As a long time advocate and support of STEMs programs, I know how vital these classes are to our young people's future success.

It is my job to stretch every dollar with smarter spending. As the only candidate who is trained and certified as a Contracting Officer Representative by Defense Acquisition University. I understand how to run the State Purchasing teams and justly award and manage hundreds of statewide contracts on behalf of more than 200 state agencies and 1,900 local government CO-OP members.
The most simple is the fact the State and local governments ignore the Texas Constitution. When it comes to Property Tax the Constitution States, all property must be taxed equally and uniformly. [Texas Constitution Article VIII, Section 1(a)] No single property or type of property should be taxed more than its fair market value. [Texas Constitution Article VIII, Section 20] We all know that both of these are not followed. To little things like charging extra for Credit Card use. In Texas, a business can not penalize you for paying with a credit card. Businesses that add a surcharge to those who pay by credit card might be violating provisions of the Texas Finance Code. However, businesses can discount the regular retail price of an item for consumers who pay cash. If you believe a business is charging extra for credit card purchases, please a file a consumer complaint with our office. Credit card fees can be charged by government entities, such as for the payment of property taxes or other fees required by government agencies. As Comptroller I will fix that, immediately the State of Texas will stop charging a Credit Card processing fee as a courtesy and to lead by example.
Unfortunately in this instance the Comptroller failed to faithfully execute the oath of office, not in management of the fund, but in being the watch dog and standing up Gov. Rick Perry's and the Legislature in 2003 when they decided to cut state support for public universities while allowing the board of regents at each to set tuition rates.

In many cases, the contracts had more than doubled in value because of tuition increases at state universities. Tuition costs skyrocketed, though. From fall 2003 through fall 2010, the statewide average total academic charges for a student taking 15 semester hours at a public university has increased by 83 percent, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Meanwhile no university athletic department makes more money than the University of Texas. While the State pays $206 million annually in support of the University of Texas system. The football and men's basketball teams account for approximately 70% of the athletic department's revenue. Total athletic department revenue: $163.3 million, but less than 6% of all revenue is spent on scholarships $9.4 million.

Texas lawmakers adjourned without fixing the state's prepaid college tuition program, which now faces a $600 million shortfall and could go broke as early as 2014 by some estimates. If that happens, state taxpayers may have to cover the shortfall because the state constitution guarantees payment to those who bought in.

The fund, originally the Texas Tomorrow Fund and later renamed the Texas Guaranteed Tuition Plan, was originally designed to help middle-class families afford college.

It stopped accepting new contracts in 2003, but still has about 89,700 active ones. Those contract holders are guaranteed that the contract will cover tuition and mandatory fees at a public university or could be used at its full value at a private university.

The fund had thousands more contracts in the summer of 2009, when the Texas Prepaid Higher Education Tuition Board, mindful of a growing shortfall, said refunds would be limited to the actual amount people had paid in, minus administrative fees, rather than the full value of the contract.

Approximately 7,400 contracts were canceled as families rushed to cash out their contracts before the new policy took effect, because of the potential that their student would opt not to go to college, would graduate early or would receive full scholarships.

As Texas Comptroller I will resolve the Student Loan crisis for all Texans. Being a victim myself, 10 years and over $50 K in legal fees, I know first hand how broken this system really is.
I believe she did the best she could with the situation she was given, but in the end she was a career politician who was concerned about re-election and the next office. It wasn't until she decided she was no longer going to seek public office that she became her most effective. I am reminded of a piece Ms. Combs wrote in the Wall Street Journal, and this dramatically changed my mind and opinion of her, that initially perhaps I judged to harshly. "Apathy costs money." - Susan Combs Texas Comptroller

She goes on to talk about how Americans need to understand what are all the players and entities that are taxing them, these taxes are to pay off debts, and you can't confront the creators of these debts if you don't know who they are. The ideas of the article are very much the corner stone and foundation of the Libertarian Party, and spoke to me with logic and reason. It is a wonderful article if you would like to read more. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324391104578230143810930984

As I have stated countless times in my Facebook page, and on my website. I am proud of the level of transparency the State of Texas strives for and will be proud to carry on the legacy. Before we can start cutting taxes, we first have to understand where the money is being spent. Drawing on my experience as the Financial IT Systems Administrator for NASA, I will publish an easy to understand budget that follows graphically the organizational chart of the State of Texas. I will create an interactive system that shows the Biannual General Appropriations Act in a graphic flow chart by department and their inter-connectivity. It will be something along the lines of what my friends at Time-plots Information Graphics Products produces. http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0177/6150/t/2/assets/WATERMARK-DNT-0712.png

Recently on my web portal I posted a Pie chart that encompasses the entire Texas General Appropriations for all funds, for 2014 & 2015 because of the level of misdirection and misleading comments. I was actually questioned by people upon posting to site my source for the graph because they believe education had been cut and teachers were going to get fired and schools would close, because that's what they were told. Meanwhile they had no idea that public education in in Texas is over 1/3 of the entire budget. If we don't know what we are spending our money on, how can we know what we can cut or do without?
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The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
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The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
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The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
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The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.