Although the race for state comptroller, which also will be on the ballot in November, hasn’t been receiving nearly as much attention as the races for governor and lieutenant governor, the new holder of that office will be critical for public education. And, the race offers a clear-cut choice between someone who can count and someone who prefers to cut.
The comptroller is responsible for making the crucial revenue estimates that tell the Legislature how much tax money it will have to spend each session on public schools and other budgetary needs. In other words, the comptroller needs to be able to accurately count very big numbers.
The current comptroller, Susan Combs, has had some trouble with that function. Her several-billion-dollar under-estimate of revenue available to lawmakers during the 2011 session encouraged the legislative majority to slash $5.4 billion from public school budgets. Combs isn’t running for reelection.
Running to succeed her are Democrat Mike Collier, a respected, world-class accountant with a strong background in financial analysis, and Republican Glenn Hegar, an ideological state senator who brags about voting for the school budget cuts and jumps whenever he expects the Tea Party to bark.
Hegar told a Tea Party group some months ago that he was “proud” to have voted against the education cuts. Remember, those cuts cost 25,000 school employees, including 11,000 teachers, their jobs.
Hegar also has entertained the idea of abolishing all local property taxes, which sounds great to Tea Partiers and a disaster to everyone who values public schools, health care and a host of other important services that receive a lot of funding from property taxes. Hegar has suggested property taxes could be replaced with higher sales taxes, but I don’t think he bothered to try to count as high as the sales tax would have to fly to make up the difference.
Does anyone really want to pay a sales tax of 20 or 25 percent? I don’t think so.
Does anyone really want Glenn Hegar in charge of figuring out how much money the Legislature can spend on their children’s schools?
Check out Mike Collier.