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August 2009


A Letter from the Comptroller

Everyone, I suppose, has had an unsatisfactory experience with government. In my case, it was a proposed power line and a patronizing electric co-op official, some 22 years ago.

My Brewster County neighbors and I couldn’t understand the need for 100-foot transmission towers alongside the Del Norte Mountains in the Big Bend. It wasn’t as if the Marathon Basin, where I’m a fourth-generation rancher, was becoming overpopulated.

When I pressed for an explanation, the co-op official responded, “If I explained it to you, you wouldn’t understand it.”

I discovered that a handful of folks can make a difference. I also learned that good data make for good results.

Suffice it to say, my neighbors and I went to work. My fellow ranchers kicked in $1,200 for expenses; I researched the issues and wrote the legal briefs; and the Public Utility Commission ruled in our favor.

We also found a $125,000 substitute for the $12 million transmission line.

It was my first turn at political activism. I discovered that a handful of folks can make a difference. I also learned that good data make for good results.

The Comptroller’s office is all about good data bringing good results.

Susan Combs

In this issue of Fiscal Notes, we look at the new laws that affect you: tax relief for small businesses, the legislative response to Hurricane Ike and the state’s greater commitment to higher education.

Of course, our involvement with the issues of the day doesn’t begin and end with a legislative session. Before lawmakers convene, we monitor the economy to determine how much money the state has to spend. During the session, we advise them on the financial ramifications of their proposals. And afterwards, we’re often asked to monitor the results.

Unlike that co-op official long ago, we operate on the theory that, if we can explain it, you’ll get it.

Susan Combs

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