Susan Combs

Capital Tonight: Public education chair talks frankly about school funding

Students starting high school for the first time next year will have a brand new slate of graduation options ahead of them. In the meantime, lawmakers are still wrestling with the complex process of implementing those changes, which were passed last legislative session.

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we heard the concerns some lawmakers have about whether the pathways to graduation are too complicated for students and parents to navigate. Plus, we talked to the Public Education Committee Chair, Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, about how counselors and increased funding will play a role in making the new law go more smoothly in the future.

BOND INFORMATION

Voters across Central Texas will have bond propositions to consider on the May ballot. But figuring out where exactly the money goes and how it affects local debt can by a tricky task. State Comptroller Susan Combs joined us in-studio next to talk about her office’s efforts to increase transparency with a helpful new website.

DEADLINE DELAY

The Obama administration is giving people more time to sign up for health insurance as part of the Affordable Care Act. The deadline to sign up was slated for March 31st, but The White House had hinted last week an extension was in the works. We spoke to enrollment experts in Austin to see how they’re dealing with the change.

Capital Tonight: Comptroller Combs endorses Dewhurst, talks post-political plans

Life after Politics

Just hours after announcing her intent not to run for office in 2014, Comptroller Susan Combs came on Capital Tonight to talk about what’s next.

She talked about her reasons for stepping down, her plans for life after statewide office, and her endorsement of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for re-election.

Revisiting Redistricting

Redistricting was back before a federal panel of judges Wednesday. The state is facing off against minority and civil rights groups who sued over redrawn political lines almost two years ago. Capital Tonight’s Karina Kling was in San Antonio for the hearing.

Special Session Secrets

Former Democratic State Rep. Sherri Greenberg and former Republican State Rep. Aaron Peña joined us to talk about the rules of the special session.

Republicans lining up for Combs’ Comptroller seat

It’s only been a few hours since Comptroller Susan Combs announced she would retire at the end of her term, but already there is a long line of Republicans eyeing her seat.

Former gubernatorial candidate and Tea Party activist Debra Media was among the first to formally throw her hat in the ring. She also launched a 2014 Exploratory Campaign website.

Sen. Glenn Hegar made his plans official this afternoon. He issued a statement wishing Comptroller Combs well, saying “I also want to announce that I will be a candidate for Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts in 2014. My campaign will have more to say in the coming days. I am very excited about this opportunity and look forward to continuing to serve the people of Texas.”

Other potential candidates include State Rep. Harvey Hilderbran and Senate Finance Chairman Tommy Williams. In a press release, Williams said he will begin an exploratory effort once the special session ends.

 

State leaders weigh in on Combs’ resignation

Gov. Rick Perry is commenting on Susan Combs’ announcement that she won’t be running for political office in 2014. His office released a statement today.

“Susan Combs has played a key role in cultivating the strength of the Texas economy, and has been a trusted and capable steward of the public accounts for many years. A major proponent of openness in government, she leaves behind a legacy of transparency, and a state that’s more responsive, more accessible and more accountable to the public. Anita joins me in wishing Susan the best in the future.” – Gov. Rick Perry

Attorney General Greg Abbott also released a statement:

“The State of Texas has been lucky to have Susan serving as one of its leaders for so many years. Whether it was fighting to increase transparency in state and local spending, helping create a more business friendly climate in Texas, or being a pioneer on issues like childhood obesity and school nutrition, Susan has always had the best interest of Texans in mind. Susan’s leadership will be missed, and I thank her for years of dedicated service to the State of Texas.” – Attorney General Greg Abbott

 

Comptroller Combs will not seek office in 2014

State Comptroller Susan Combs announced today she will not seek elective office in 2014. The announcement comes after months of speculation over her political future, including a potential bid for lieutenant governor.

“I want to make my intentions clear as soon as possible for prospective statewide candidates,” Combs said in a statement released Wednesday morning.

This means the race for lieutenant governor in the GOP primary will include the incumbent, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, along with Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson. All three have said they will run. Combs’ announcement also opens up the race for comptroller.

Combs indicated during a recent appearance on Capital Tonight that she would discuss her future plans with her husband over the Memorial Day weekend before making any decisions. She will be our guest on Capital Tonight this evening at 7. Her entire statement is below the jump.

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Combs hints at plans for lieutenant governor race

For the first time, State Comptroller Susan Combs is offering some hints as to her future political plans. Combs’ name has often been mentioned as a possible candidate for lieutenant governor. Until now, she has maintained that she is focused on the current legislative session and the job at hand.

That all changed Tuesday. In an interview with Capital Tonight’s Paul Brown, Combs stopped just short of confirming she is indeed planning a run for lieutenant governor. She said,

“I think anybody that runs for office has to consult their family. So my husband and I are going to go to the ranch in Big Bend in about two weeks and have a heart-to-heart chat about what it is we want to do together. And then I will announce it right there after.”

If she does decide to run, Combs would face off in a primary against other big name Republicans including sitting Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples.

You can watch our full interview on Capital Tonight, live at 7 p.m.