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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.

TREASURERS

Name

Party

Began

Ended

William E. Woodruff

 

1836

1838

John Hutt

 

1838

1843

J. C. Martin

 

1843

1845

Samuel Adams

 

1845

1849

William Adams

 

1849

1849

John H. Crease

 

1849

1855

A. H. Rutherford

 

1855

1857

John H. Crease

 

1857

1859

John Quindley

 

1859

1860

Jared C. Martin

 

1860

1861

Oliver Basham

 

1861

1862

Leroy B. Cunningham

 

1862

1864

E. D. Ayres

Rep

1864

1866

Leroy B. Cunningham

 

1866

1867

Henry Page

Rep

1867

1874

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

Ransom Gulley

Dem

1895

1899

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

Joe Ferguson

Dem

1919

1925

Sam S. Sloan

Dem

1925

1925

Dwight H. Blackwood

 

1925

1927

Ralph Koonce

Dem

1927

1931

Roy V. Leonard

Dem

1931

1935

Earl Page

Dem

1935

1945

J. Vance Clayton

Dem

1945

1961

Lee Arthur Clayton

 

1961

1963

Nancy J. Hall

Dem

1963

1981

Jimmie Lou Fisher

Dem

1981

2003

Gus Wingfield

Dem

2003

2007

Martha Shoffner

Dem

2007

2013

Charles Robinson

 

2013

 

Note: Treasurers were appointed by the legislature until 1864. No parties are listed for those appointed (Blackwood in 1925, Clayton in 1961, and Robinson in 2013), all appointed to finish terms.

For additional information:
Arkansas State Treasury. http://www.arkansas.gov/treasury/index.html (accessed September 19, 2008).

Goss, Kay C. The Arkansas Constitution: A Reference Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1993.

Staff of the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture

Last Updated 5/29/2013

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