The Texas Comptroller has been in the news recently for announcing additional financial companies for the state to divest from as well as for ruling that Harris County reduced its law enforcement budget unlawfully. In light of the media spotlight on these high-profile issues that the Comptroller handles, it is a fitting time to take a look at the role of a comptroller in the public sector.
Fulfilling numerous financial duties
Previously, we looked closely at the roles of city attorneys and municipal prosecutors. In this post, our focus lies with comptrollers. A comptroller manages a municipality or state’s financial, accounting and budgeting tasks. Essentially, they are a city, county or state’s chief financial officer. This involves hundreds of complex duties, including:
- Preparing revenue estimates
- Collecting taxes
- Certifying budgets
- Accounting for various expenditures
- Approving contracts
- Performing audits
Another term for comptroller is controller, and the two can be used interchangeably. Texas’s current Comptroller is Glenn Hegar – the 36th person to hold the title.
Stepping into the spotlight for the future
Historically, comptrollers have remained in the background compared to officials in other roles that appear in news media regularly. However, several conflicts between local and state governments relating to financial legislation or proposed legislation have pushed the position into the spotlight.
First, there is the 2022 law that forbids public governments from entering contracts with or investing in financial companies that support green energy. There is also the aforementioned hot-button issue about defunding police agencies. With other issues such as public education up for debate in the upcoming state budget plan, the Texas Comptroller as well as municipal comptrollers may appear in the news more frequently, bringing the significance of their role to the forefront.