Comptroller of Public Accounts: The Basics

The comptroller of public accounts is chosen via statewide election and serves four-year terms with no term limits.  There are no specific constitutional qualifications to serve as the comptroller of public accounts.  In 2016, the comptroller of public accounts was compensated $153,750/year.

As the state’s chief financial officer, the comptroller of public accounts is responsible for various functions, including:

  • collecting a variety of state taxes and fees
  • producing annual financial reports
  • estimating the amount of revenue the state will generate each year (which impacts the budgeting process)
  • overseeing state payments for goods and services
  • co-chairing the state’s Treasury Safekeeping Trust, which invests, manages, and oversees more than $50 billion in assets

As the state’s purchasing manager, the comptroller of public accounts is also responsible for awarding and managing hundreds of statewide contracts.

The Comptroller’s office also administers a variety of programs, including the State Energy Conservation Office and the Texas college savings plans.

What about the Treasurer?

Initially, financial duties were divided between the Treasurer and the Comptroller of Public Accounts.  Texas’s last state Treasurer, Martha Whitehead (who was elected in 1994), ran on the campaign promise to abolish the office.  The Treasurer’s Office was abolished through a constitutional amendment in 1996, with its remaining functions absorbed by the Comptroller of Public Accounts.