A Tough Independent Watchdog for California Taxpayers
John Chiang has aggressively used his independent fiscal oversight power to audit state and local government programs. He has found over $2.4 billion in government waste, fraud, abuse and inefficiency – far more than any previous Controller. John stopped the state from paying $11 million a year in salaries to dead employees. He cracked down on bureaucrats spending tens of thousands of dollars on lavish meals and extravagant entertainment.
Demanding Sound State Budgetary Policies
John Chiang has adamantly opposed balancing the state budget with one-time gimmicks accounting tricks and massive borrowing. He stood up to the Governor and the legislature and opposed the efforts to balance the budget on the backs of those who can least afford it. He supports efforts to hold the politicians accountable for their failure to pass a sensible budget on time.
Keeping the State from Going Over the Fiscal Cliff
As Controller during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Chiang’s sound cash management was cited as instrumental in keeping the State’s credit rating from plunging into junk status, which saved taxpayers millions of dollars.
Reforming Public Pension Plans
To ensure the fiscal solvency of the State's pensions. Chiang has been a leader in pension and corporate governance reform. He successfully sponsored legislation requiring all state pension systems to adopt disclosure policies regarding the interaction between board members and placement agents (middlemen hired by large Wall Street firms to solicit public pension dollars). He has also sponsored bills to curb pension-spiking, require placement agents to register as lobbyists, and require CalPERS and CalSTRS board members to file more campaign contribution disclosure reports. He has led efforts to address the state's looming crisis associated with unfunded medical expenses for state retirees.
Protecting the Environment
Controller Chiang is committed to safeguarding California’s vast and precious natural resources. He has joined with institutional investors managing $4 trillion in assets to call on federal lawmakers to enact a national standard to address global warming. A State Lands Commission member (and chairman during even years), he has opposed new offshore oil leases and is committed to preserving the State’s 1,100 miles of coastline
Returning Unclaimed Property to Rightful Owners
As Controller, Chiang led the effort on reforming the State's 50-year-old Unclaimed Property Program, which currently holds $5.7 billion in bank accounts, utility deposits and other property that businesses have deemed abandoned by their owners. He wrestled the program away from misguided law makers who had used the programs funds to balance their budget over-spending. As a result, the program's original mission of returning lost and forgotten property to their rightful owners has been restored. In three years, Controller Chiang returned more money than was returned in the previous five years.
Reforming Corporate Governance
Controller Chiang serves on 78 boards and commissions, including two of the nation's largest public pension funds. At both CalPERS and CalSTRS, Chiang has championed the disclosure of environmental risks, demanded that executive compensation be tied to performance and results, and increasing diversity on corporate boards as ways to strengthen the public pension plans' investments.
Helping Local Governments, Small Businesses, Non-Profits, Seniors and Working Families
During these tough economic times, Controller Chiang understands the difficulties facing local governments, businesses and families. He created an unprecedented assistance program to provide local officials, small businesses and non-profits with the tools and guidance they need to protect their funds while complying with state business and tax laws and regulations. To ensure working families and seniors get all tax credits they have earned, the Controller’s staff has coordinated volunteer efforts to assist more than 2,500 low- and moderate-income families and individuals with their income tax filing preparation, helping them qualify for nearly $3 million in refunds and tax credits.