John Chiang was elected on Nov. 4, 2014, as California’s 33rd State Treasurer. As the state’s banker, he oversees trillions of dollars in annual transactions, manages a $75 billion investment portfolio, and is the nation’s largest issuer of municipal bonds.
In addition, he chairs financing authorities that help provide good-paying jobs, better schools, improved transportation, quality health care, more affordable housing and a cleaner environment. He handles those duties while sitting on the governing boards of the nation’s two largest public pension funds with combined assets exceeding $496 billion.
After his first 28 months as Treasurer, a few of Chiang’s accomplishments included:
- Saving the state of California and its agencies $5.5 billion over the life of the bonds through refinancing of older debt.
- Cutting red tape and accessing billions in untapped federal resources for the state’s largest affordable housing program, which has led to an 80% increase in the number of homes built or rehabilitated since 2014. Thousands of California’s seniors, veterans, disabled, and working poor will now have a safe, clean place to call home.
- Cutting off Wells Fargo from its most profitable lines of business with the State of California after it was found to have fleeced thousands of its customers. Importantly, states and cities across the country are now following his lead and imposing similar sanctions to send a message that integrity and trust matter.
- Building a new online banking system so that 2,450 California public agencies can deposit, withdraw, and invest their money without relying on mid-20th century “fax and phone” methods.
- Overseeing the market studies, legal analysis, and design work for the newly created CalSavers Retirement Savings Program. CalSavers, the largest expansion of retirement security since the passage of Social Security in 1935, will give nearly 7 million private sector workers in California a pathway to a dignified retirement.
- Sponsoring a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown requiring greater accountability and transparency over how state and local governments borrow and spend taxpayer monies.
- Sponsoring a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown that imposes the nation’s most robust transparency requirements on fees paid by public pension funds to Wall Street private equity firms.
Upon assuming office, Chiang developed a financial blueprint for the state – sixteen ideas designed to help workers, businesses, and communities. These initiatives are detailed in “Building California’s Future Begins Today.” A whole chapter of the plan focuses on new approaches to maintaining and building bridges, roads, schools and other critical public infrastructure. To date, 14 of the 16 objectives in the original blueprint have either been accomplished or are near completion.
Chiang has made transparency a top priority, believing that sharing information with taxpayers enables them to hold government officials accountable. In November 2015, he unveiled DebtWatch, a powerful new website that offers the public user-friendly access to three decades of data related to debt issued by state and local governments. DebtWatch was named “Best Application Serving the Public” at the 2016 California Technology Forum.Prior to being elected Treasurer, Chiang served from 2007 through 2014 as State Controller. During the Great Recession he took steps to preserve cash to meet obligations to education and bond holders. His cash management decisions – which included delaying payments and issuing IOUs -- were instrumental in keeping the state’s credit rating from plunging into junk status. Chiang’s actions saved taxpayers millions of dollars.
He aggressively used his audit programs to identify more than $9.5 billion of fraud, waste and abuse in government programs, the most by any Controller in California’s history.
Chiang was first elected to the Board of Equalization in 1998 where he served two terms, including three years as chair. He began his career as a tax law specialist with the Internal Revenue Service and previously served as an attorney in the State Controller’s Office.
The son of immigrant parents, Chiang graduated with honors from the University of South Florida with a degree in finance. He received his law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center.