Betty Yee Biography

Betty’s Story

California Born and Raised

A native of San Francisco and a proud product of its public schools, Betty was born to immigrant parents who built a laundry and dry cleaning business from scratch in the Parkside District of the city. 

The second oldest of six children, Betty grew up speaking no English in the home.  After school, she worked the counter of her parents’ small business, handling financial transactions with vendors, customers, banks, and government agencies.  With the help of her family, community, public schools, and teachers who went the extra mile, Betty rose up from minding the books of the family business to minding the books of the 5th largest economy in the world.

A Success of the Public Schools

Betty is a proud product of San Francisco public schools. Along with her parents and supportive customers of the family business, her junior high school English and Math teachers challenged her, encouraged her, and instilled in her the value of hard work and study to help her succeed.  Betty earned a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley, where she returned to serve on the Cal Alumni Association board to help raise funds for much-needed scholarships.  She holds a master’s degree in public administration from Golden Gate University, where she also was conferred an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters in 2017.

Dedication to Public Service

Betty has 35 years of experience in state and local finance and tax policy.  She was elected to the California State Board of Equalization in 2006 and re-elected in 2010, representing close to 9 million Californians.  Prior to this, Betty served as the State’s budget director, where she led the development of the Governor’s Budget, negotiations with the Legislature, and fiscal analysis of legislation on behalf of the Administration. Betty has also held senior staff positions on several fiscal and policy committees in both houses of the California State Legislature.

Currently serving as our controller, Betty has been on our side — holding government accountable, working to ensure income and retirement security, protecting our environment, and taking on big companies more interested in lining their pockets — to make sure the doors of opportunity continue to stay open — so every Californian can fulfill their dreams, raise their families, and thrive.

Betty Yee addressing an audience at a panel.

Accomplishments that Matter

Betty has been an effective independent fiscal watchdog for California, focused on ensuring the security of our state finances. Since she was elected Controller in 2014, she led audits of state and local government that uncovered over $4 billion in misused public funds.  Betty has taken on life insurance companies, successfully compelling them to rightfully pay death benefits to surviving loved ones.

Betty has protected California’s environment and safeguarded our pristine coastline. As chair of the State Lands Commission, she worked to decommission the last nuclear power plant in California and the last state oil platform in the Santa Barbara Channel. She has defended California’s waters against federal oil drilling plans and protected public access to public trust lands and beaches.

Eye on the Future

In her second term as State Controller, Betty will focus on California’s affordability crisis — specifically the ways that the economic disruptors of climate change and technological innovations in the workplace will affect the financial insecurity of California workers and families. Betty will focus on policies that address the impacts of these changes on California workers, affordable housing, healthcare, education, and economic growth. 

Betty believes that California’s diverse economic sectors hold some of the answers to these challenges. California is the fifth largest global economy, yet home to the highest effective rate of poverty among the 50 states. Betty understands the sustained economic health of California rests upon the economic and financial health of individual Californians and their ability to attain good-paying jobs, affordable housing, health care, and a high quality education. That’s what she  fighting for, and it’s how we know Betty is always on our side.