Who’s running for Texas comptroller, and why is that job so important?
Texas voters on Tuesday will decide whether to re-elect incumbent Comptroller Glenn Hegar or choose his Democratic challenger, Janet Dudding.
The comptroller’s race might not be the most talked about this election cycle, but the office oversees a variety of important areas in Texas.
For instance, the state comptroller oversees the state’s assets, like the property it owns, and tax collections.
The comptroller can also use the office to dive into social issues. For example, people who are opposed to drag shows have argued the comptroller can investigate them since the office collects taxes from businesses that support such shows. The comptroller also oversees the State Energy Conservation Office, so he or she can play a role in climate change mitigation.
Hegar is running for his third term.
He told The Texas Newsroom recently that he’d like to move forward on some unfinished business — including guiding the state Legislature in crafting Texas' budget next year. The state will likely have a surplus of over $27 billion.
“A large portion of that is because the economy has grown in Texas, and substantially in the last 18 months,” Hegar said. “But a large portion of it, unfortunately, is because you and I, ordinary citizens, businesses, are paying more today for the same items than they were just a year ago.”
Hegar said his office has collected $330 million in sales tax, and he wants that surplus to be used in the best way possible.
Hegar said the state Legislature could put it toward reducing property taxes.
“Because people are … continuing to pay more taxes, and that has been a continued burden,” he said.
Hegar said he also wants to continue working with the Legislature to expand broadband access across the state, through the Broadband Development Office.
Besides dealing directly with the economy during his tenure, Hegar has also tackled some social issues.
For instance, he created a list of financial institutions he claimed were anti-fossil fuels and prohibited local governments and the state from doing business with them.
Most recently, Hegar pledged to investigate every complaint received by his office against drag shows.
“If we get some information that some type of performance is a sexually oriented performance, I have a responsibility go investigate that because we have that responsibility and duty,” he said. “The point is, any drag show is not a sexually oriented business — there are some that can cross into that threshold. So, we are going to investigate if they do, and if they don’t we’ll move on to the next.”
Dudding told The Texas Newsroom that Hegar’s decision to investigate drag shows is a political stunt.
“All of the statewide elected (representatives) report to the people. None of them are interconnected,” Dudding said. “So you just don’t follow orders from whoever gave him the order on that … but if he doesn’t like theater, then don’t go to the theater.”
Dudding is a certified public accountant. One of the main reasons she decided to run is to fight climate change because of her experience surviving Hurricane Katrina.
“You go through one of these things, and it gets real personal to you — climate change gets real personal to you,” she said.
Dudding added the comptroller’s office has “some real super powers” over the fight against climate change through the State Energy Conservation Office.
During campaign speeches and in interviews, Dudding has emphasized Texas has never had a CPA as comptroller, and her experience could be a game-changer.
She has pledged that, if elected, she'd push for marijuana legalization.
”I can be in El Paso, step across the line into New Mexico … buy a thing of gummies for less than $25, and … step back into Texas with that thing of gummies, and that’s a felony,” Dudding said. “Y’all, that ain't right.”
She said legalizing marijuana could bring Texas up to $2 billion in revenue.
Dudding said she would also push the Legislature to use the surplus to waive the sales tax on products like tampons and diapers.