California State Treasurer

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State Treasurer of California
CaliforniaTreasurerSeal.png
Seal of the State Treasurer of California
Fiona Ma (cropped).jpg
Incumbent
Fiona Ma

since January 7, 2019
StyleThe Honorable
Term lengthFour years, two term limit
Inaugural holderRichard Roman
1849
FormationCalifornia Constitution
Websitewww.treasurer.ca.gov

The California State Treasurer is responsible for the state's investment and finance. The post has narrower responsibilities and authority than the California State Controller. Some of the responsibilities include issuing bonds and notes for the state, and trustee, as well as registrar and paying agent for all general obligation bonds and certain revenue bonds investment of temporarily idle state money. The administration of the state's budgets, financial analyses and planning, money allocation, and economic research is under the California Department of Finance. The State Treasurer's main office is located in the Jesse M. Unruh State Office Building in Sacramento.

The state treasurer assumes office by way of election. The term of office is a four-year term but is limited to two terms. Elections for the State Treasurer are held on a four-year concurrent basis with the election of the Governor. The current state treasurer is Fiona Ma.

Duties[edit]

  • As the state's banker, manages the state’s investments.
  • Administers the sale of state bonds and notes and is the investment officer for most state funds.
  • Chairs or serves on several commissions, most of which relate to the marketing of bonds.
  • Pays out state funds when spent by the Controller and other state agencies.

History[edit]

The Office was retained as an elective office in the New Constitution of 1879, in recognition by the Workingman's Party (which factored heavily in the State's constitutional convention) that The Treasurer had a significant impact of local credit guidance under the National Bank system established by the Lincoln Administration. Transcontinental cash settlements were still restricted, so California's local development was driven by a relatively high-proportion of local gold reserve deposits. In 1907, the State Treasurer was instrumental in a massive expansion of credit to rebuild San Francisco after the 1906 Earthquake[1], however, at that time the Treasurer was essentially an office controlled by the railroads. In 1907, the expansion of California money supply lead by the Treasurer selling bonds to build the Port of San Francisco seawall exposed liquidity problems due to corruption in the New York Clearinghouse, causing the Panic of 1907.[2]

Progressive governor Hiram Johnson left the office essentially untouched. Of the office, he had this to say in his first inaugural:

The most advanced thought in our nation has reached the conclusion that we can best avoid blind voting and best obtain the discrimination of the electorate by a short ballot. A very well known editor in our State, during a recent lecture at Stanford University, challenged the faculty of that great institution to produce a single man who had cast an intelligent vote for the office of State Treasurer, and none was produced. Fortunately our State Treasurer is the highest type of citizen and official. The reason the challenge could not be met was that, in the hurry of our existence and in the engrossing importance of the contests for one or two offices, we can not or do not inform ourselves sufficiently regarding the candidates for minor offices... If we can remedy this condition it is our duty to do so, and it is plain that the remedy is by limiting the elective list of offices to those that are naturally conspicuous.[3]

The creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913 significantly restricted the power of the State Treasurer to influence local economic development, essentially centralizing National Monetary policy. During the First World War, this was deployed toward War Mobilization. Still, State Bond issuance for major infrastructure projects characterized the office into the 1960s, including bonds for the State Parks System in the 20's, to build facilities for the 1932 Olympic Games, for the Postwar expansion of the University of California and State University Systems, for the State Water Project of 1960, and for the massive expansion of the State Prison System in the 1980s. As California's population and economy expanded, the Local Agency Investment Fund became a significant market player, and the Office developed the capacity to bail out troubled corporations by buying up their bond issuances.

Ivy Baker Priest stands out as the first woman to be elected to any California statewide office from 1967-1975, having already served as Eisenhower's Treasury Secretary in the 1950s. She was famous for aphorisms, including "We women don't care too much about getting our pictures on money as long as we can get our hands on it." With the election of Kathleen Brown in 1990 as a Democrat, the Democratic-lead legislature significantly expanded the scope and duties of the office; however, the Orange County Bankruptcy also lead the legislature to significantly curtail the permissible investment policies of Treasurer-administered pooled local investments. Although the Treasurer has nominal advisory authority over local debt issuance, the Treasurer was powerless to prevent local government entities such as Stockton or San Bernardino from falling into insolvency.

List of Treasurers[edit]

Name Term Party
Richard Roman 1849–1854 Democratic
Selden A. McMeans 1854–1856 Democratic
Henry Bates 1856–1857 American
James L. English 1857–1858 American
Thomas Findley 1858–1862 Democratic
Delos R. Ashley 1862–1863 Republican
Romualdo Pacheco 1863–1867 Republican
Antonio F. Coronel 1867–1871 Democratic
Ferdinand Baehr 1871–1875 Republican
José G. Estudillo 1875–1880 Democratic
John Weil 1880–1883 Republican
William A. January 1883–1884 Democratic
Denis J. Oullahan 1884–1887 Democratic
Adam Herold 1887–1891 Democratic
J. R. McDonald 1891–1895 Republican
Levi Rackliffe 1895–1898 Republican
Will S. Green 1898–1899 Democratic
Truman Reeves 1899–1907 Republican
William R. Williams 1907–1911 Republican
Edward D. Roberts 1911–1915 Republican
Friend William Richardson 1915–1923 Progressive; Republican
Charles G. Johnson 1923–1956 Republican
A. Ronald Button 1956–1959 Republican
Bert A. Betts 1959–1967 Democratic
Ivy Baker Priest 1967–1975 Republican
Jesse M. Unruh 1975–1987 Democratic
Elizabeth Whitney 1987–1989
Thomas W. Hayes 1989–1991 Republican
Kathleen Brown 1991–1995 Democratic
Matt Fong 1995–1999 Republican
Phil Angelides 1999–2007 Democratic
Bill Lockyer 2007–2015 Democratic
John Chiang 2015–2019 Democratic
Fiona Ma 2019–present Democratic

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.sfmuseum.org/1906/rebuild.html. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-financial-panic-of-1907-running-from-history-82176328/. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ https://governors.library.ca.gov/addresses/23-hjohnson01.html. Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]