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Board Members

Taxpayers in California elect two of the three members that makeup the Franchise Tax Board.

The board is consists of:

Betty T. Yee

State Controller
Chair, Franchise Tax Board

State Controller Betty T. Yee was elected in November 2014, following two terms of service on the California Board of Equalization. As Controller, she continues to serve the Board as its fifth voting member.

Ms. Yee was first elected to the Board of Equalization in 2006 where she represented 21 counties in northern and central California.  She was elected to her second four-year term in 2010.

Now serving as the state’s chief fiscal officer, Ms. Yee also chairs the Franchise Tax Board and serves as a member of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) Boards. These two boards have a combined portfolio of nearly $500 billion.  Ms. Yee also serves on the Ceres Board of Directors, a nonprofit organization working to mobilize many of the world’s largest investors to advance global sustainability and take stronger action on climate change.

Ms. Yee serves on dozens of boards and commissions with authority ranging from land management to crime victim compensation.  As a member of the State Lands Commission (and chairperson in even-numbered years), she helps provide stewardship of public-trust lands, waterways, industrial wharves, marine terminals, pipelines, and resources through economic development, protection, preservation, and restoration consistent with the state’s environmental needs.  The development and extraction of oil, gas, and geothermal resources are part of the Commission’s purview, as well.  Through other financing authorities, Ms. Yee is dedicated to creating incentives that will increase the number of affordable housing units in California, given that demand consistently outpaces supply.

Ms. Yee has over 30 years of experience in public service, specializing in state and local finance and tax policy.  Ms. Yee previously served as Chief Deputy Director for Budget with the California Department of Finance where she led the development of the Governor’s Budget, negotiations with the Legislature and key budget stakeholders, and fiscal analyses of legislation on behalf of the Administration.  Prior to this, she served in senior staff positions for several fiscal and policy committees in both houses of the California State Legislature. She also cofounded the Asian Pacific Youth Leadership Project, which exposes California high school youth to the public service, public policy, and political arenas.

A native of San Francisco, Ms. Yee received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley, and she holds a master’s degree in public administration.

For more information about the State Controller’s Office, please visit their website.

George Runner

Chairman, Board of Equalization

Elected in November 2010 and re-elected in 2014, George Runner represents more than nine million Californians as a member of the State Board of Equalization. He is a leading advocate for California taxpayers and serves as the Board's Chairman.

During his time on the Board, Runner has worked to improve California’s tax policies and practices and to create and retain more private sector jobs in our state. He was instrumental in ending the practice of collecting security deposits from new business owners trying to do business in California. As a result, the state has returned tens of millions of dollars back to their rightful owners instead of keeping those funds tied up in a government account.

Runner led a successful effort to reform an ineffective use tax collection program targeting small businesses. He is an outspoken critic of the confusing and controversial California Fire Prevention Fee.

Prior to his election to the Board, Runner served twelve years in the State Legislature. As a thoughtful conservative, his legislative priorities included improving the economy, business growth, education excellence, and public safety for all Californians. As a member of the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee, Runner consistently led the fight against tax increases and supported tax relief for families and businesses.

Mr. Runner was the author of Jessica's Law, which was passed by more than 70 percent of California voters in November 2006. It created some of the toughest and most comprehensive sex offender management and control laws in the nation.

He also authored the well-known California Amber Alert, which has resulted in more than 200 successful reunions of children with their parents, as well as California's Blue Alert, which uses Amber Alert technology when a peace officer has been killed, seriously wounded or assaulted with a deadly weapon and the suspect has fled the scene.

In recognition of his efforts, Runner was named Legislator of the Year by a number of respected organizations, including the California State Sheriffs' Association, Crime Victims United, California Sexual Assault Investigators Association, Coalition of Chief Probation Officers, California Coalition of Directors of Environmental Health, California Community College Trustees, and the California Building Industry Association.

He also received the Pursuit of Justice Award from the Los Angeles County Association of Deputy District Attorneys. Runner was consistently named one of Sacramento's most conservative legislators by the Capitol Weekly newspaper and received perfect legislative scores from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers' Association.

Prior to his election to the State Senate in 2004, Runner served in the State Assembly for three terms, from 1996 to 2002. During this time of service, Runner served as Vice Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee. In this role he fought against tax increases and for tax relief on behalf of all Californians.

Prior to his election to the State Assembly, Runner served on the Lancaster City Council, including two years as mayor. In 1976, Runner founded Desert Christian Schools, which is now one of the largest private schools in the State of California.

Michael Cohen

Director of Finance

Michael Cohen was appointed as Director of the California Department of Finance by Governor Jerry Brown in September 2013. He serves as the Governor’s chief fiscal policy advisor.

Prior to becoming Director, he served as Chief Deputy Director of the Department of Finance from 2011 to 2013. In this capacity, Mr. Cohen was the department’s lead contact with the state Legislature on the state budget.

From 1997 to 2010, Mr. Cohen worked at the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO). While there, he served as a local government finance analyst, Director of State Administration, and Deputy Legislative Analyst.

Mr. Cohen earned a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School at the University of Texas and a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Studies from Stanford University. He lives in Sacramento with his wife Amy Supinger and his two dogs, Lulu and Dexter.

For more information about the Department of Finance, please visit their website.

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Last Updated: 03/07/2018

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