Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Fares Sabawi
As the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Glenn Hegar oversees tax revenue collections and makes financial predictions for the state.
Hegar was elected last November after he served the Katy area in the Legislature for nearly 12 years. Four of those years were spent in the Texas House of Representatives representing District 28 before he was elected to represent District 18 in the state Senate in 2006.
During his time as a legislator, Hegar served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Nominations and as a member of the committees on Finance, Natural Resources and Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Homeland Security.Read more
Hegar was appointed to the Sunset Advisory Commission in 2008 by then-Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. The move marked the first time a freshman legislator was named to a leadership position of the commission. Hegar served as chairman of the committee from 2009-11. As the newly-elected comptroller, Hegar has already made changes to the office.
The sixth-generation Texan grew up on a small family farm in Hockley. His family still lives in the Greater Katy area, and Hegar reflects on the region’s growth.
You decided to step down from the Texas Senate to run for comptroller. What sparked
Being able to represent 254 counties, the whole state of Texas, I have a much greater ability to have a significant impact. In essence the comptroller’s office is the central nervous system for the state government. We handle not only the revenue estimate and tell the Legislature how much money is coming in … we [also] deal with the treasury and the taxes we’d collect. So really, impacting state government and our daily lives, I thought I’d have a much bigger impact there than the state Senate.
You’ve been comptroller since January. What have you learned so far on the job that has surprised you?
There are a few things. One is that the office has over 3,000 employees and 26 different divisions. Our three core responsibilities from a constitutional perspective are revenue estimating, tax collection and to finance treasury. But we handle a wide variety of other issues.
We also deal with endangered species. Who would have ever imagined that the Comptroller of Public Accounts deals with endangered species? I chair what’s called the Interagency Task Force on Endangered Species. My point is that we deal with such a wide breadth of issues.
What changes have you made since taking office?
I tried to restructure parts of the agency. I restructured to have points of contact in executive positions so we can manage better. I’m really focusing on our tax shop and our finance shop to make sure [these operations are] running properly.
One of the biggest frustrations [I hear] is people don’t understand how to maneuver the website. Over the years, we’ve just added more pages. We’re [undertaking] a major reconstruction of the website to make it more user friendly.
Texas has enjoyed 62 consecutive months of sales tax revenue increases. What do you attribute that to?
I attribute it to the men and women of Texas. If you think about all the job growth that we’ve had, it comes from the private sector. People have the desire to succeed and Texas is a little more business friendly. I would attribute it to that, too.
What are your thoughts on Katy’s growth?
With Katy, you’re talking about another million people coming there within the next 15-20 years. That’s a lot of people. The growth is pretty phenomenal. The family farm I grew up on is now 5 miles from the Grand Parkway. It’s exciting to see a lot of people wanting to call [Katy] home, but that also means there [are] infrastructure issues that need to be dealt with.
The 84th legislature recently concluded in June. What are your thoughts on the last session?
I think [the Legislature] did a good job in crafting a budget that takes care of the needs for the state of Texas over the course of the next two years. They put more money in transportation; they dealt with some long-term liability issues that we needed to take care of. It’s a good budget that makes some strides forward.