Texas State Treasurer
The office of State Treasurer superseded a similar office in the Republic of Texas. The Treasurer had a four-year term as head of the State Treasury Department. The office, along with the treasury department, was abolished by Texas voters in 1995 and was formally closed in 1996, with duties taken over by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.
The last person to be elected Treasurer, Martha Whitehead, ran on the platform of abolishing her own office. Detractors to Whitehead's plan, including Republican opponent David Hartman, suggested the proposal was a fraud. Hartman favored expanding the Treasury by having it assume the duties of several other state agencies, including the Public Finance Authority and the Pension Review Board, possibly saving more money. Whitehead said in the event voters kept the office open she would have served the whole four-year term. Whitehead, a Democrat, won by a narrow margin—50.29 percent to Hartman's 49.7 percent of 4,145,981 votes cast statewide.
The major duties of the office were to receive and keep state money, maintain accounts of all receipts and expenditures, collect cigarette and tobacco taxes and certain gross-receipts taxes, serve as custodian of securities in trust, receive unclaimed property held in trust, and administer money in a local government-investment pool called TexPool. Additionally, the treasurer acted as chairman of the State Depository Board and the Cash Management Committee, officer of the Treasury Safekeeping Trust Company, and member of the State Banking Board and Bond Review Board.
The State Treasury Department had two divisions: fiscal management and administration. Within the fiscal management area the Fiscal Operations Division processes checks from state agencies and state warrants. The State Depository Board approved Texas financial institutions to function as state depositories and establishes interest rates on state time deposits. The Treasury Safekeeping Trust Company kept several billion dollars in securities owned by state agencies and the treasury. Unclaimed money from dormant bank accounts, insurance benefits, corporate dividends, and mineral proceeds, for example, were handled through the Unclaimed Property Division, which the treasury used to locate missing owners.
The administrative divisions of the treasury provided computer operations, legal support, and the sale and distribution of cigarette and alcoholic beverage stamps. The Cash Flow Estimating Division forecasted state expenditures and revenue. The Rapid Deposit Program developed efficient cash-management programs. A system called TEXNET, begun in 1990, was designed to receive and process large taxpayer payments electronically to hasten interest earnings.
In 1990 approximately 260 employees worked in the State Treasury Department, which had an operating budget of more than $21 million. The treasury processed more than 34,000 checks a day from state agencies and earned more than $300 million in interest during the fiscal year.
Notable Texas State Treasurers
Some notable former state treasurers in Texas include:
- Handbook of Texas History, Texas State Treasurer entry: http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/SS/mbsex.html