Texas Merit Shop – One on One with Senator Paul Bettencourt

From Texas Merit Shop, January 2016 Edition
By: ABC of Texas

Senator Paul Bettencourt is Chief Executive Officer of Bettencourt Tax Advisors, LLC, a radio and TV personality, former Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector from 1998-2008, and the current Texas Senator from District 7. At the Tax Office, he introduced “Smart Government” and developed a customer service drive organization. His team created the first major online Property Tax Payment system and the first county tax office website with online Automotive Registration in Texas. (His motto was “Get on-line, not in-line.”) His leadership in the office and the community earned Paul the “Taxpayer Advocate of the Year” award from Americans for Prosperity, the “Hero of Faith” award from the Houston Area Pastor’s Council, and the “Pioneer” award from the Harris County Republican Party.

Paul has also held the offices of the Texas Republican Party Treasurer, the Harris County Republican Party Vice Chair and Treasurer, a National Republican Party Alternate from Texas in 2000, a National Delegate in 2004 and 2008, and Presidential Elector in the 2012 Presidential Election from Congressional District 7.

After a decade of public service, Paul started his own business in 2009. With a focus on customer service, technology, and best business practices, Bettencourt Tax Advisors, LLC assist in reducing property tax bills for its clients and has successfully expanded to over 30 employees.

Paul ran for the Texas Senate in District 7 and won with 71.8% of the vote. As the newly elected Senator of SD 7, he was honored to be appointed to the Senate Finance Committee by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who also appointed Paul to the Senate Committees on Intergovernmental Relations (Vice Chair), Education, and Higher Education. At the conclusion of the Legislative Session, Senator Bettencourt was recognized by Capitol Inside as “Most Valuable Freshman” and by Governor Abbott as an “architect of tax relief.” He is now the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform and Relief.

Please Describe your business background:
I served as V.P. of the $100 million Oil & Gas Process Automation Division for ABB in Houston. I spent ten years as the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector, where my office motto was “get online, instead of in line.” My office was the first in Texas to automate tax collection, vehicle registration, and voter registration, all while keeping my budget flat. In 2009, I formed Bettencourt Tax Advisors, which has since grown to 33 employees.

Additionally, I am a weekly radio talk show host, a former business consultant, and when I was fresh out of Texas A&M had a greater starter job in industrial robotics.

What is your view of the free enterprise system:
I believe that a free enterprise system, and a free market, offers a chance for everyone to succeed on their own merits. There is no other system, devised by mankind, that has lifted so many out of poverty and expanded opportunities for everyone. I will continue to advocate for a free enterprise system in Texas.

What were your personal priorities last session and how did they fare:
We had a lot of legislative accomplishments this session, but there are two that I am most proud of. I was honored to sponsor the “Right to Try” legislation in the Texas Senate. This moves government out of the ways terminally ill patients and their doctors have faster and easier access to experimental, potentially life-saving treatments. Additionally, I am proud of our property tax relief efforts, which were successful with the passage of Proposition 1 with 86% of the vote.

I also helped establish some new safeguards to protect Texans from increasing property taxes. I was able to add an amendment to SB 1760, which now requires a taxing entity to have a supermajority before they are authorized to raise taxes. This is a beneficial next step in taxpayer protection in Texas.

You were recently appointed as Chairman of the Select Committee on Property Tax Reform and Relief. What issues does the committee intend to tackle this interim:
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick charged my Select Committee to look at appraisal reform and property tax relief. The problem has been that property taxes have been increasing at up to six times faster than Texans’ paychecks. That is bad public policy as taxpayers cannot afford government to grow at that pace. The full charge language is below.

Property Tax Process: Study the property tax process, including the appraisal system, and recommend ways to promote transparency, simplicity, and accountability by all taxing entities.

Reduce Tax Burden: Examine and develop options to further reduce the tax burden on property owners.

* Article reprinted with permission.