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2013-08-29

Hilderbran's next stop - Texas Comptroller

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Planting his boot firmly on the next rung of a statewide political ladder, District 53 Representative Harvey Hilderbran spoke from the heart when he said recently, "Texas is leading the nation as a beacon of opportunity and prosperity. We're number one in job creation and that puts a target on our back."

In his next political incarnation, Hilderbran is looking forward to keeping his beloved state out of what he deems the crosshairs of the Obama Administration.

On Tuesday, August 20, joined by friends, supporters and elected officials from Kerr County and City of Kerrville, the Texas District 53 State Representative announced his bid for the Republican nomination for Texas Comptroller. The office is being vacated by Susan Combs, who recently announced she would not seek re-election.

The announcement ended speculation that had swirled since July 10 when Hilderbran disclosed he would not seek another term in the Texas State House, ending a 25-year run. He joins other GOP contenders, Texas State Senator Glenn Hegar, former Texas State Rep. Raul Torres and former gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina, seeking the comptroller's position.

As chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee for the past two regular legislative sessions, Hilderbran oversaw the comptroller's office. He also sat on the Legislative Audit Committee and the Legislative Budget Board, which prepares the draft appropriations bill and budget estimate for each state agency. During his tenure in Austin, he led an effort to pass more than $1 billion in tax relief.

Last week, Hilderbran told the standing-room-only crowd, "I don't need any training for this office. I am ready for it. I am prepared for it. I have chaired the House Ways and Means committee where all tax legislation originates. It's the same committee with oversight authority over the comptroller's office. I don't need on-the-job-training to be Texas Comptroller."

Continuing, Hilderbran said, "I will bring new ideas for how we can use the comptroller's office to fight for better results. The comptroller's office is enormously important, and I intend to use it to protect taxpayers, improve services, ensure fiscal responsibility and advance free enterprise."

He added, "I have specific proposals for carrying out my duties as Texas Comptroller and the fight for conservative principles and limited government."

While streaming live from the historic Union Church in Kerrville, Hilderbran unveiled the first three points of his 10-point "Performance Pledge." The points included instituting a "rapid response" customer service policy, ensuring that the state pays the same interest rate as it charges hardworking Texans and helping protect Texans from IRS abuse.

"The office of the comptroller will lead the state in providing quality customer service and set an example for other agencies. Time is money," he said. Hilderbran felt that the office could be a gateway for attracting new business to the state. He also pledged that, under his leadership, the office of the comptroller would do nothing to impede businesses in Texas.

Hilderbran also noted that if the state issues a refund for overcharges to its citizens, that refund should include accrued interest as well.

Vowing to protect Texans from a draconian and overreaching IRS, Hilderbran explained, "As the chief tax officer in the state, the comptroller must interact with the IRS. In that capacity, we will protect Texas taxpayers from outrageous IRS abuse, whether it's harassment over audits or delaying the approval of tax-exempt statuses."

He promised to announce the rest of his performance plan over the course of the campaign.

Last week's announcement began with a video of Hilderbran at the State House in Austin revealing his decision not to run for another term. "I have served under four speakers and four governors in 13 regular sessions and 20 special sessions," he said. "I have served when Republicans were the minority party and when they were the majority party. I love this place. It has been an honor to serve in this hallowed chamber."

Giving rise to speculations about future plans, he also said, "I won't be here to serve in the 84th Texas Legislature, but I intend to be here in a different capacity."

To illustrate his love for the state - and for that of his wife of 20 years, Tracy - Hilderbran offered a story about the couple's 20th anniversary. "I had to attend a meeting in San Angelo, so we spent our 20th anniversary in a Comfort Inn. Everything came out okay though," Hilderbran recalled. "I gave Tracy a diamond wedding band and she gave me a brand new pistol. It doesn't get any more Texan than that."

A 1983 graduate of Texas Tech University, Hilderbran was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1988. He lives with his wife and two daughters live in Kerrville. In the private sector, Hilderbran has extensive experience in real estate, ranching, advertising, business management, and marketing.

For campaign updates, visit his new website, http://www.HarveyForTexas.com