There are few jobs in Austin for which political inexperience might be considered an asset. State comptroller is one of them, and the political outsider who deserves the position is Democrat Mike Collier.
While he’s politically green, Collier has gained a bounty of relevant experience from his three-decade career as a Certified Public Accountant — first at Exxon, then at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, before serving as CFO in an oil company he helped build.
Collier says his motivation to run came after the botched 2011 revenue estimates by outgoing Comptroller Susan Combs, which indirectly lead to a $5.4 billion cut in education funding, some of which has been restored. Providing more accurate financial projections and quarterly fund balance estimates top Collier’s agenda.
He also proposes restoring the Texas Performance Reviews to the comptroller’s office to increase accountability of state agencies, and would continue to improve upon efforts to bring more transparency to the state’s finances.
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The 53-year-old Houston businessman, who told the Star-Telegram Editorial Board that he has no designs on higher office, has also said that he’d like to “leave politics out of it” (the office, that is). It’s an approach that is tough to argue with, since the job of comptroller — the state’s CFO, treasurer and accountant — should transcend politics.
In contrast, the Republican candidate, state Sen. Glenn Hegar, 43, is every bit the politician. The lawmaker and farmer from Katy has served in the Legislature for more than a decade, where he chaired the Sunset Advisory Commission and worked to eliminate wasteful spending.
While he’s certainly a political animal, Hegar, 43, is still a credentialed competitor. He wants to make the state’s financial information more accessible and to improve the agency’s accuracy as a revenue estimator.
But Hegar’s proven strength is as a politician, and Texans would more likely benefit from a candidate whose strength is in numbers.
Collier and Hegar recently scheduled their first and only debate for Oct. 29.
Libertarian Ben Sanders and Green Party candidate Deb Shaffo also are seeking the office.
The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends Mike Collier for comptroller of public accounts.