• Neal Spelce

What's In a Name?

The State Comptroller of Texas


What’s in a name? Or, in this case, what’s in a title? Maybe it’s, how do you pronounce a title?"

The State Comptroller is one of Texas’ most important statewide offices. The office has many significant functions. But, just consider one – to get an idea of the office’s importance to all of state government.


Remember, Texas is a “pay as you go” state. No deficit spending, like they have at the federal level. Texas can’t print money like the Feds can. If Texas doesn’t have cash in the bank, it can’t fund anything. The Texas budget is all-important.

Also you need to take into account that Texas operates on a two-year cycle, since the Texas Legislature only meets in regular budget session every two years. So your legislators must decide two years out how much money it has to spend on state services.


The State Comptroller is the only state official who can say “this is how much money you will have in the next two years, no more. And, legislators, you can’t spend a penny more than that. Period. That’s it. Got it?”


Enough of the weighty stuff. Let’s get to the point I want to make. For as long as I can remember, there has always been a debate on: How do you pronounce it – COMPtroller or CONtroller? It’s been used back-and-forth, seemingly forever.

So it is not surprising that after GOP Gov. George W. Bush defeated Democrat Gov. Ann Richards, he set up a meeting with Dem. State Comptroller John Sharp in 1995. Obviously, they discussed matters of state. But then, something like this conversation took place:

“So, John, do you prefer to be called COMPtroller or CONtoller?”
“It really doesn’t matter, Governor. Whatever you would like.”
“Well then, what did Governor Richards call you?”
“She called me ‘Darlin’.”

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