In preparation for California’s upcoming Primary election, we are releasing a quick background on each of the Constitutional Officers and what they actually do in the California government.

Today, we are comparing and contrasting the powers of the two fiscally-oriented Constitutional Officers – California’s State Treasurer and State Controller.

The current State Treasurer is John Chiang (D), who was first elected to the position on November 4, 2014.

The Treasurer acts as the chief investment officer, banker and financier of the state government and is responsible for managing the state’s pooled money investment account (PMIA). He also sits on the boards of the state’s employee pension funds, such as CalPERS and CalSTRS.

The Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) are significant investors/stockholders in the U.S. and global economies. The pension funds provide for the retirement of their members – state and local government employees and teachers, respectively – and also perform a variety of other services for them.

California’s PMIA is an investment account where the State Treasurer and the Pooled Money Investment Board, which the Treasurer chairs, invests California taxpayer money to fund the State budget cash flow.  At the end of April 2018, the PMIA portfolio totaled approximately $85.9 billion.

Similar to the Treasurer, the State Controller is also a fiscal officer for the California Government.

The State Controller acts as the state’s accountant, bookkeeper and auditor, tracking and controlling disbursement of state funds from the treasury. The areas of government audited and reviewed by the controller include school districts, the California State Lottery, oil and gas lease royalties, state agencies, and a multitude of local governments.

Similar to the Treasurer, the State Controller sits on the boards of both CalPERS and CalSTRS. However, unlike the State Treasurer and as mentioned in our first iteration of What Do the California Constitutional Officers Do, the State Controller is a member of the Board of Equalization.

The current State Controller is Betty Yee. She manages the outgoing money from the state funds and treasury. A common example of the Controller’s job is releasing money funds to workers employed by the State. As a matter of fact, Betty Yee’s name may be the most familiar for state employees because her name is on the checks issued to them in payroll.

It may seem at first that the differences between the Treasurer and the Controller are minimal. However, both have distinct roles in the State Government. The Treasurer is responsible for incoming and invested funds. The Controller manages the money leaving the treasury.

Molly Alcorn contributed to this post.

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