My Future Plans
It is with a deep sense of gratitude for the past, coupled with excitement for the future, that I announce today I will not be seeking elective office in 2014. I want to make my intentions clear as soon as possible for prospective statewide candidates.
We are all so privileged to live in the great state of Texas, and the rest of the country has much to learn from our successes. I have been very fortunate to have served the citizens of this state in elected office for what will be 20 years when my present term as Comptroller ends.
I want to thank each and every one of my friends, colleagues, supporters, and fellow Texans for the generosity of spirit and the warmth and affection you have shown me and my family over the years.
I also want to thank the talented and dedicated public employees who serve the citizens of Texas and work hard every day to make our state better. I am grateful for your service, and it has been an honor and a privilege to work by your side throughout these years.
For nearly 20 years, my husband and I raised our three wonderful (and tall) sons, while I also ran my family’s ranching operation in the Big Bend area of Texas. Then for the next 20 years, I served in elective office—first as a state legislator, then as the first woman Agriculture Commissioner, and finally as your Comptroller.
Over the past few months, my husband and I sat down at our dinner table on numerous occasions and we talked about what we wanted to accomplish in the next few decades. This past weekend, we settled on our future path.
First, we decided we want to spend more time on the ranch once my current term as Comptroller ends. My great grandfather came to Texas in 1854 and set up his ranching operation in the Big Bend over 130 years ago. This heritage is important to both of us. With the arrival of our first grandchild, we wanted to be sure that when we turn our ranch over to our descendants, it will be in even better shape than when we got it. Just as my own father did when he entrusted me with the reins of managing this land.
Second, I plan to stay actively engaged in the policy work I have focused on for the past two decades. This includes the protection of private property rights and fighting federal overreach, finding ways to combat the effects of obesity, and ensuring governments are transparent to make our economy stronger.
For the next 18 months as your Comptroller, I will work in these areas and others, maintaining a sharp focus on the duties of this office, while also sharing the story of Texas across the nation.
I would be remiss if I did not mention how proud I am of the work the Comptroller’s office has done over the past 6 ½ years, with many successes that are continuing today. Together, with an incredible group of state employees, we have many accomplishments to share across the US. We have crafted reasonable solutions that work.
Starting in 2007, we focused on providing exemplary services to the citizens of Texas. To that end, we opened the checkbook of the state so average Texans could see how and where we spent their money, thereby becoming a national model. We now provide a statewide toolbox for Texans to know more about how government spends their money through an award-winning Web site: www.TexasTransparency.org.
We have worked to provide a single set of books across all state agencies with the goal of giving you, legislators, and policy-makers information for decisions in real time. This obviously provides greater efficiency and effectiveness.
Additionally, through our state purchasing program, we have saved the state of Texas more than $123 million by driving sweeping reforms in purchasing and contracting and nearly $44 million through centralizing procurement activities for Texas state agencies and institutions of higher education. That’s more money that can be used for other priorities in our state—and it’s good commonsense practices.
Because it is our belief that it’s always your money, we put sweeping new reforms in place in our unclaimed property process. To date, we have returned more than $967 million of their own money to Texans.
And although paying taxes is never an enjoyable situation, we have always worked to ensure that taxpayers receive the best customer service possible. We streamlined our audit and collections processes and made it easier for taxpayers to pay their obligations electronically. Our state-of-the-art Treasury system deposits money quickly and ensures payments are made accurately and timely.
I am also proud of the work our agency has done with local communities, landowners, and businesses through the Interagency Task Force on Economic Growth and Endangered Species. Through collaborative efforts, we were able to protect the Permian Basin from a listing of the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard under the federal Endangered Species Act. This region of the state accounts for 57% of Texas’s total crude oil production and is a vital engine in our economy—and a listing would have had a huge negative economic impact.
Over the last year, we have seen the rise of citizens all across this great land who expect government to tell the truth—about spending, about debt, about pension obligations, and about what we the people owe. Since 2007, our agency has focused on transparency, providing Web site access to open up state level spending and revenue to the public. Because there is no comparable local level resource, we supported legislation this session to make this happen; but the bill failed on a technicality. I believe honesty in government is vitally important, so we are moving ahead full speed to provide a broader reach and depth of information about local debt and spending practices for the taxpayers in our state. As part of this project, we launched a Web site just yesterday: www.TelltheTruthTexas.org. I hope you will stay tuned and join this important effort.
I look forward to working together as we continue to make our state—and our country—stronger. In the summer of 1994, I marched up Congress Avenue with hundreds of Texans in support of private property rights—and I’m not done marching!
Thank you again for your support and trust over the years. May God continue to bless this great state of Texas.