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What does a State Treasurer do?

By Cassie L. Damewood
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A state treasurer manages the money of one of 49 of the 50 United States. Texas, however, has no state treasurer—the position that controls the state's finances is called Comptroller of Public Accounts. The office of state treasurer is elected by state voters every four years in some states and appointed by the governor as part of his or her cabinet in others.

Besides collecting taxes to pay for a state’s operating expenses, the state treasurer is commonly expected to manage and invest the state's money wisely to cover expenses and generate profit. He is typically the person who makes the final decisions on all matters related to the state’s assets, expenditures and budget allocations. His position normally includes advisors who provide him with guidance and advice on all fiscal matters.

The other responsibilities of a state treasurer ordinarily relate to the state’s general funds. He customarily manages the account that invests monies in the interests of funding state and local governments. Other commissions and boards on which he serves usually include those related to public employee retirement and health care funds. It is common for these funds to regularly be invested and divested to increase the coffers. In some states, these fund investments reflect some of the country’s largest stockholders.

Public works projects typically require a large chunk of a state’s money. The majority of ventures focus on environmental endeavors, public parks and wildlife preserves, highway systems, public schools and state colleges and universities. The state treasurer is usually the person who authorizes funds for each project. He generally is required to carefully analyze the needs of each county and city to fairly disperse the money throughout the state.

Profit and non-profit businesses frequently seek financial assistance from the state in the form of tax-exempt loans for new projects or upgrades to existing ones. The state treasurer commonly chairs committees that review these requests, and he frequently has the final power of approval. The most commonly reviewed requests normally come from health care facilities, small business owners and entrepreneurial support groups; requests also come from groups such as low-income housing developments and student loan funding institutions.

Success in this position normally requires expert budget administration skills. Knowledge of investments and rates of return is generally considered an asset for a state treasurer. Empathy and understanding of the needs of all socioeconomic groups is typically considered an asset for this position.

The educational requirements vary from state to state. Most applicants or candidates have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in finance, business administration or political science. A solid background in public accounting or public administration is highly desirable for these job candidates as well.

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Discussion Comments
By anon169519 — On Apr 21, 2011

Actually in many states (or maybe all of them), the state treasurer is not responsible for taxes. That responsibility is passed to a different department.

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