The Eagle recommends a vote for Harvey Hilderbran for comptroller of public accounts

February 17, 2014

From The Eagle:

Eagle Editorial Board

Comptroller

Harvey Hilderbran vs. Debra Medina vs. Glenn Hegar vs. Raul Torres — The comptroller is the chief tax collector for the state, accountant, treasurer and revenue estimator. Texas A&M’s Chancellor John Sharp served as comptroller, as did the much-respected Bob Bullock.

Torres said Texas is growing at the rate of 1,000 people a day and the comptroller’s office needs a pro-business, pro-growth environment. He said, “We have to rethink how government works or business will leave Texas.” He calls for repealing the margins tax — which benefit manufacturers, but not service firms — which he said would create 30,000 to 40,000 new Texas jobs and bring in $8 billion to $10 billion over the next decade. He said he could save the state $40 million to $60 million be the end of his first year if elected.

Torres said he is the only certified public accountant in the race. He was the first Hispanic from Corpus Christi elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2010.

Medina is a tea party supporter who ran for governor four years, coming in third behind Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison. She is a registered nurse and a longtime party activist who runs her own medical billing firm in Wharton. In her run for governor, she advocated for land rights and gun rights.

Medina told Texas Monthly, “I’ve talked a lot about the idea that the tax structure we have in Texas today is broken. We can argue about whether or not it’s worked well in 1860 Texas or in 1960 Texas; it might have. But it is not working well today, and there’s a lot of objective data to support that premise. So I believe that the agency has a strong role to play in having an opinion about tax policy and articulating that to the public, but also in articulating that to the Legislature.”

Hegar, a graduate of Texas A&M, served four years in the Texas House of Representatives and has served as Dist. 18 state senator since 2007, which includes Washington County. A former chairman of the Sunset Advisory Commission, Hegar said he would use the skills learned there to review the operations of the Comptroller’s office, seeking to improve efficiency in the day-to-day operations.

He also said he would work to eliminate outdated programs and taxes and would seek to improve the relationship between the office and its customers.

Hilderbran has represented the Kerrville area in the state House since 1989 and said this would be is last term even if he wasn’t running for comptroller. He has been on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee for four terms, two of them as chairman. He said the comptroller’s administration of tax regulations is “unfair and inconsistent.”

He advocates for a “Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights” that would include audit fairness, simplifying the refund process, adjudication before payment must be made, extending the protest period, interest rate parity in which taxpayers would receive the same interest rate on refunds as the state charges taxpayers when collecting deficient taxes, defined time period, limiting the statute of limitations on tax audits and making permanent the taxpayers’ bill of rights through a constitutional amendment.

The Eagle recommends a vote for Harvey Hilderbran for comptroller of public accounts.