Susan Combs, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Susan Combs is committed to making state government work better for all Texans, through open, responsive and transparent government.
As the state’s treasurer, check writer, tax collector, procurement officer and revenue estimator, Combs brings a fiscally conservative philosophy to her office. Combs insists that taxpayer money be spent wisely, and that both citizens and their elected officials have a true accounting of the state’s finances.
On her fourth day in office, Combs put all of her agency’s expenditures on the Web. That fall, she posted expenditures for all state agencies. This launched what has been widely recognized as the nation’s most innovative transparency effort, one that has inspired many other states to contact her office for guidance.
Since then, she has issued reports and accompanying Web tools that open the books on state and local government finances. Texans can use these tools to study state agency spending in fine detail, and to learn local sales and property tax rates for every local government in the state. Fully interactive maps provide detailed debt statistics on all Texas cities, counties, school districts and community college districts.
Since being elected Texas Comptroller in 2006, Combs has enacted sweeping reforms in state purchasing and contracting, saving nearly $12 million in her agency alone. Across all state agencies, her volume purchasing efforts have saved taxpayers more than $134 million. By centralizing procurement functions through her office, Combs has also been able to reduce operational and administrative costs for state agency procurement activity by approximately $200 million over the past five fiscal years.
Because she knows citizens have a right to their unclaimed property, she has streamlined the process of returning money to its rightful owners and as a result has returned more than $1 billion since taking office in 2007. Unclaimed property payments began in 1962, and Combs has returned more money than was returned in the combined 44 years prior to her taking office.
To help secure private data for citizens and businesses and combat identity threats, Combs joined the Advisory Board of the University of Texas Center for Identity in summer 2011. In this role, she created and chairs the Child ID Task Force, which is developing solutions to prevent childhood identity theft.
Combs has long been a crusader for Texas children, first serving Texans as a Dallas County assistant district attorney handling child abuse cases. While serving as the first woman elected as Texas agriculture commissioner, Combs developed the nation’s most sweeping childhood nutrition policies at the time for public schools, receiving national recognition for her efforts.
Combs is a strong private property advocate. As a member of the Texas House of Representatives, she co-authored and helped pass landmark legislation in 1995 to help Texas landowners fight federal regulatory overreach. She has worked for many years to help Texas military installations conduct critical operations in the face of increased endangered species regulation. As presiding officer of the statewide Interagency Task Force on Economic Growth and Endangered Species, she maintains the Keeping Texas First website, which tracks the economic impacts of federal environmental regulation and provides valuable information on the process to affected communities. She also secured the nation’s first science fund aimed at gathering data on at-risk species.
Combs understands that the private sector is the engine of our state economy. As Comptroller, she continues to keep our economy strong, and ensure transparency at all levels of Texas government.