Office of State Treasurer
aka: Office of Treasurer
The treasurer of Arkansas is the state’s financial officer and one of seven constitutional officers elected at large. Responsibilities of the treasurer, who is part of the executive branch of state government, include receiving and keeping monies collected by the state, managing and investing funds, and disbursing funds according to state law.
In 1819, the territorial legislature created the position of treasurer, and the first to serve as territorial treasurer was James Scull. The constitution of 1836 established the position of state treasurer, though it was not a popularly elected position. Instead, the treasurer was selected by a vote of the Arkansas General Assembly. William E. Woodruff, publisher of the Arkansas Gazette, was the first to serve as state treasurer. The constitution of 1861, which was instituted following the secession of Arkansas from the Union, retained this means of choosing the treasurer. In 1864, the Union government, which occupied Little Rock (Pulaski County) and large portions of the state, ratified a new constitution to ensure recognition and financial support from the federal government; this constitution required that the state treasurer be chosen by the electorate. The Reconstruction constitution of 1868 reaffirmed this requirement. The current Arkansas constitution, written in 1874, basically repeats the previous one’s language regarding the treasurer: “The treasurer of State, Secretary of State, Auditor of State and Attorney General shall perform such duties as may be prescribed by law.” The duties, however, are not delineated in the constitution itself.
The five divisions of the state treasury department cover local government services, cash management, investments, receipt processing, and warrant redemption. The first oversees fund distributions to county and city governments. The cash management division coordinates state fund transfers, distributes revenue to state agencies and institutions of higher education, and balances the general ledger each day. The investments division manages state investments in trust funds, banks, certificates of deposit, and the like. The receipt-processing division verifies all funds deposited in the state treasury, while the warrant-processing division takes care of those checks issued by state agencies for payments for services rendered.
One state treasurer, Thomas J. Churchill, later served as governor. Jimmie Lou Fisher, who served as treasurer from 1981 to 2003 and who ran for governor in 2002, oversaw the movement of the treasury’s operations to computer systems and is the state’s longest-serving treasurer. The state treasurer serves in other posts, such as the secretary of the State Board of Finance; ex officio member of Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System Board of Trustees, Arkansas Teacher Retirement System Board of Trustees, and Arkansas Development Finance Authority Board of Trustees; and member of the Arkansas State Highway Employees Retirement System Board of Trustees and the Arkansas Rural Endowment Fund Board of Trustees.
|William E. Woodruff||1836||1838|
|J. C. Martin||1843||1845|
|John H. Crease||1849||1855|
|A. H. Rutherford||1855||1857|
|John H. Crease||1857||1859|
|Jared C. Martin||1860||1861|
|Leroy B. Cunningham||1862||1864|
|E. D. Ayres||Rep||1864||1866|
|Leroy B. Cunningham||1866||1867|
|R. C. Newton||Rep||May 1874||Nov 1874|
|Thomas J. Churchill||Dem||1874||1881|
|William E. Woodruff Jr.||Dem||1881||1891|
|Richard B. Morrow||Dem||1891||1895|
|T. E. Little||Dem||1899||1901|
|H. C. Tipton||Dem||1901||1907|
|James L. Yates||Dem||1907||1911|
|John W. Crockett||Dem||1911||1915|
|R. G. McDaniel||Dem||1915||1919|
|Sam S. Sloan||Dem||1925||1925|
|Dwight H. Blackwood||1925||1927|
|Roy V. Leonard||Dem||1931||1935|
|J. Vance Clayton||Dem||1945||1961|
|Lee Arthur Clayton||1961||1963|
|Nancy J. Hall||Dem||1963||1981|
|Jimmie Lou Fisher||Dem||1981||2003|
For additional information:
Arkansas State Treasury. http://www.arkansas.gov/treasury/index.html (accessed January 16, 2020).
Goss, Kay C. The Arkansas Constitution: A Reference Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1993.
Staff of the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture
Last Updated: 01/16/2020