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Texas Comptroller Susan Combs Provides Testimony on HB 13

April 29, 2013

Comptroller Combs’ provided testimony to the Senate Committee on State Affairs on House Bill 13. The bill calls for measures similar to recommendations in the Comptroller’s recent series of reports on public debt transparency, “Texas, It’s Your Money”.

House Bill 13 was unanimously approved by the committee. Below are sound bites of Comptroller Combs’ testimony.

HB 13 #1 “If a public pension is underfunded, it is another form of debt that taxpayers are responsible for. When taxpayers are paying the freight, they need to know how much they owe. Yet we discovered through numerous open records requests that it’s incredibly hard to get financial information regarding public pensions and that needs to change.”

HB 13 #2 “When I charged my staff with finding information for this report, they spent months contacting pension plans even nagging some to get what was clearly public information yet they had a very really difficult time doing so in some cases. ”

HB 13 #3 “Texas government code 552.0038 specifically states that public retirement systems are subject to the open records laws except of course where an individual’s personal information is involved. Public information requested of these plans by my office and that being requested by this bill is 100 percent publicly available information.”

HB 13 #4 “If we can’t get information from my office think how hard it would be for Tom and Mary taxpayer to find out if they could at all.”

HB 13 #5 “The difficulty we had obtaining this information is an excellent example of the need for mandatory training for planned administrators. In addition to pension related training, they should know the basics of their involvement in public entities and their responsibilities to the public. We also have the responsibility to make this information easily available by posting it online.”

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