The Back MicThe Back Mic: Phelan Balks at Tenure Removal, State Tax Collection Trend ‘Cannot Continue,’ Hegar Seeking Last Term as Comptroller

This week — the Texas House speaker balks at the revocation of university tenure, Comptroller Hegar cautions the tax collection windfall will break, and Hegar says his third term will be his last.
September 30, 2022

Don’t Miss “The Back Mic”

An exclusive look inside Texas politics and policy, every Friday.

Phelan Parts with Patrick on Tenure

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s proposition to eliminate tenure for university professors as recourse for teaching subjects like critical race theory has met some opposition from House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont).

Phelan indicated he “respectfully disagree[s]” with Patrick’s proposal in an interview with Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith at the organization’s annual TribFest.

“I can just tell you, in my time talking to folks at the University of Texas, they’ll tell you it’s hard to recruit conservative professors without tenure,” Phelan said.

Patrick originally proposed the reform in reaction to a resolution passed by the faculty council at the University of Texas which condemned the Texas Legislature’s ban on the teaching of critical race theory in schools — legislation that has received mixed responses among Republican and conservative circles.

The Texan Tumbler

Under the proposal, new hires would receive no tenure. For current professors, there would be a six-year review process; “good cause” for termination would encompass teaching critical race theory.

The legislature convenes in January, at which point the five-month legislative sprint will begin.

Consumption Tax Largesse “Cannot Continue,” Comptroller Says

The Texas Legislature will likely grapple with a $27 billion treasury balance due to a financial trend that cannot continue, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said at TribFest.

As Hegar has expressed frequently, while the record numbers Texas is setting with consumption tax collections are a sign of the state’s emergence from the pandemic, it’s an even bigger descriptor of the surrounding economic realities.

“We’re paying more because of inflation, because of supply chain [struggles],” he said. “It cannot continue and don’t count on it to.”

Higher prices mean more taxes paid even if it doesn’t necessarily coincide with a booming economy. “When you take the fact that we’re still in a world with substantial inflation, stressed supply chains, and a stretched workforce…that’s going to affect the economy,” he added. This year’s tax collections surpassed last year’s by 25.5 percent.

Hegar’s message to legislators, in front of whom sits the task of divvying out the surplus dollars, is simple: don’t expect it to be replicated. That means that in addition to deciding what to spend that money on, they must keep in mind how much might be put away for a “rainy day.”

The national economy has teetered on the brink of recession for months now. The first two quarters of 2022 saw contraction, usually a sign of a recession, but the economy then rebounded slightly. Now, worries about a full-scale recession continue.

Despite that, Hegar is confident Texas is financially better prepared than any other state. “On the horizon of a global slowdown…I can confidently say that we will weather that storm greater than other places are,” he stated.

Glenn Hegar Seeking Final Term as Comptroller

During the same interview, Hegar stated that should he win re-election in November, it will be his last term as Texas comptroller.

Hegar was first elected to the position in 2014 after serving eight years in the Texas Senate. This year, he faces Democrat Janet Dudding on the ballot, who was also in attendance at the TribFest interview and asked from the crowd if Hegar would debate her.

The Comptroller of Public Accounts’ responsibilities are vast; the office oversees virtually every aspect of the state’s financial books. Among its most pronounced responsibilities is to provide the Certified Revenue Estimate for the state government — a process Hegar describes as “an impossible task” requiring a projection of incoming revenues beginning nine months out and stretching over two years.

The agency also tracks financial data such as all kinds of tax collections, state contracts, the vast number of Chapter 313 abatement agreements, and now even the distribution of broadband expansion funding.

Hegar did not say what he has his eye on next but said that whatever that is, if and when it comes, his wife and children will play a large role in the decision.


Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.

Get “KB's Hot Take”

A free bi-weekly commentary on current events by Konni Burton.

Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.