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Tuesday June 5, 2018 — California Primary Election
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State of CaliforniaCandidate for Controller

Photo of Betty T. Yee

Betty T. Yee

California State Controller
4,030,136 votes (62.1%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Maintain high levels of accountability and oversight of the state's finances.
  • Address the changing nature of work with the growth of the gig economy and its impacts on state revenues.
  • Address the effects of global climate change with respect to the risks and the opportunities they pose for California's economy.



Profession:Chief Financial Officer
Controller, State of California — Elected position (2015–current)
Member, California State Board of Equalization, First District — Elected position (2007–2014)
Acting Member, California State Board of Equalization, First District — Appointed position (2004–2006)
Chief Deputy Director for Budget, California Department of Finance — Appointed position (1999–2003)


Golden Gate University, San Francisco Master's Degree, Public Administration (1981)
University of California, Berkeley Bachelor of Arts, Sociology (1979)

Community Activities

Board Member, Ceres (2017–current)


With 35 years of state and local finance experience and tax policy, I serve as California’s Controller, the chief fiscal officer of the six largest global economy.  As Controller, I have expertly managed the State’s cash, diligently served as California’s independent auditor of public funds, timely completed California’s financial statements that have earned numerous awards, and consistently improved state and local financial reporting.  Since assuming office as Controller in January 2015, my audit team has uncovered about $4 billion in public funds directed to unallowed and wasteful uses.  Additionally, with the careful work of my cash management team, California has not had to rely on any external borrowing to pay its bills. 

As Controller, I serve on 70 boards and commissions, where I have led most notably in protecting retirement security for our educators and public sector workers first and foremost by putting risk mitigation strategies in place in my role as a fiduciary on the California Public Employees' Retirement System and the California State Teachers' Retirement System boards; addressing climate change as a business risk and leading a global engagement strategy along with other institutional investors with the top 100 emitters around the world (Climate Action 100+); and decommissioning the last nuclear power plant in California as well as the last state oil platform in the Santa Barbara Channel, protecting public access to public trust lands and beaches, and working with our ports on issues of air quality and sea level rise in my role as a member and rotating chair of the State Lands Commission.

Responsible for one of the State's largest consumer protection programs, the Unclaimed Property Program, I have improved electronic claiming of properties by their rightful owners and successfully compelled life insurance companies to hand over just under $400 million in dealth benefits to my office to return to loved ones of deceased policy holders.

Prior to my election to the office of Controller, I served on the California State Board of Equalization from 2004 through 2014, representing the First Equalization District comprised of 9 million Californians along the northern and central coast including the entire San Francisco Bay Area.  In 2017, I led the successful enactment of reforms to the State Board of Equalization to improve upholding taxpayers' rights and to ensure taxpayers statewide are treated equally and fairly  .  Preceding my election to the State Board of Equalization, I served as the Chief Deputy Director for Budget with the California Department of Finance, where I led the development of the Governor’s Budget, negotiations with key budget stakeholders, and analyses of legislation on behalf of the Administration.  I also served as senior staff on several fiscal and policy committees in both houses of the California State Legislature.

I have served on numerous nonprofit boards, including those of California Women Lead, the Equality California Institute, and the Cal Alumni Association at the University of California, Berkeley.  I also co-founded the Asian Pacific Youth Leadership Project, which exposes high school students to the public policy, political, and public service arenas.  I currently serve on the board of Ceres, a national nonprofit organization focused on sustainability issues, working with investors and companies.

A native of San Francisco, I earned a B.A. in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley.  I hold a master’s degree in public administration from Golden Gate University, San Francisco, where in 2017 I was conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.  The second oldest of six children born to immigrant parents, I along with my siblings grew up working in the family laundry and dry cleaning business where I handled the financia transactions for my parents.  Just as I minded the store for my parents' small business, I now have the privilege of minding the store for the state of California.


Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $1,845,774

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

California Association of Realtors
California Faculty Association
California Labor Federation
California Teachers Association
SEIU California
SEIU Local 1000
UA Local 467 Plumbers, Steamfitters, and Refrigeration Fitters

More information about contributions

By State:

California 92.10%
District of Columbia 2.39%
Connecticut 1.21%
New York 0.92%
Other 3.38%

By Size:

Large contributions (99.74%)
Small contributions (0.26%)

By Type:

From organizations (75.10%)
From individuals (24.90%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

My political philosophy is rooted in a deep appreciation for democracy and its foundations of equality and justice for all, beginning with the ability of each to fully participate in our democracy.  As an elected official, I view my power coming from being informed and understanding the array of perspectives relating to specific issues and concerns.  I welcome engagement, participation and debate.  

However, the public needs to be informed and understand its responsibility in a democracy.  This is why I am an advocate for equal access to high quality, public education as well as for voting rights.  Amidst great cynicism about whether one's vote really matters especially with the influence of money in politics and the array of opinions disseminated by media in all forms , I believe voting does matter.  As the suffragists and civil rights leaders who fought to win the right to vote understood, voting is the most important right because it is the right by which we protect all other rights.  One person, one vote --- a level playing field at the ballot box --- is where change begins.

As an elected official in our diverse state of California, I believe political labels have created division rather than deepen understanding of one's political philosophy.  I also believe platitudes by candidates need to be supported by specific intentions and actions to galvanize engagement and participation.  The public's trust and confidence in their institutions of government is key to a healthy democracy, and after the financial crisis of the late 2000s that left many questioning their own economic security, there is much trust and confidence for public officials to rebuild.   

So while one may tout California's economy to be a prominent one globally, ranking as the sixth largest, this is meaningless for many Californians who confront the high costs of living in California, the home therefore of the highest rate of poverty among the 50 states.  With this political philosophy, I as a political leader must do my part to, for example, give voice and address the risks and opportunities for Californians to two urgent economic disruptors:  the changing nature of work and global climate change, both of which have the potential of exacerbating inequality if we do not focus on a just transition towards a growing gig/platform-based economy and a renewable and clean energy sector and water sector that protects workers.   

Videos (1)

2018 State Democratic Convention Speech — April 15, 2018 California Democratic Party

My narrative of the experiences of Californians that I encounter on my campaign.

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