Executive Branch Pennsylvania


The Pennsylvania Treasury is an independent department of state government. It is led by the state treasurer, who is elected every four years. Treasurers are limited to two terms.

As the name “Treasury” suggests, the department’s paramount responsibility is safeguarding and managing the state’s financial assets, but Pennsylvania’s constitution and statutes place additional specific responsibilities on the office.

Taxes and other sources of revenue collected by the state are deposited with the Treasury. The department uses that money to make payments on behalf of state government, including payroll for state employees and charges incurred by government agencies. Before issuing payments, Treasury’s Bureau of Fiscal Review must carefully examine invoices to make certain the charges are lawful and correct.

While managing cash flow to ensure that enough money is on hand to meet financial obligations, Treasury also places funds in widely diversified short-term and long-term investments to earn income for state taxpayers. It also holds and/or invests funds for other government agencies, such as the state pension boards. As of 2014, Treasury is custodian of approximately $100 billion in public assets.

Auditor General:

The Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General is the chief fiscal watchdog of the commonwealth. It is responsible for using audits to ensure that all state money is spent legally and properly.

The auditor general was created by an act of the General Assembly in 1809. The auditor general was appointed by the governor until 1850, when it became an elected office. The auditor general can serve a maximum of two, four-year terms.

Attorney General:

The Attorney General is Pennsylvania’s top law enforcement official, with a wide range of responsibility to protect and serve the citizens and agencies of the Commonwealth.

The Attorney General is served by a staff of several hundred prosecutors, attorneys, investigators, agents and support staff in offices across the state,divided into three sections: the Criminal Law Division, the Public Protection Division and the Civil Law Division.

The Criminal Law Division is responsible for investigating drug trafficking, child predators, organized crime, public corruption, insurance fraud and other criminal violations. This division also handles criminal cases referred to the Office of Attorney General by Pennsylvania’s 67 District Attorneys or various other government agencies.

The Public Protection Division safeguards the personal rights of the citizens of Pennsylvania and protects the public interest. The Public Protection Division handles consumer complaints through the Bureau of Consumer Protection and the Health Care Section, oversees Tobacco enforcement, Charitable Trusts and Organizations, Antitrust actions and Civil Rights Enforcement.

The Civil Law Division defends the constitutionality of Pennsylvania law, represents Commonwealth agencies, defends the Commonwealth in tax appeals, collects delinquent taxes and other debts owed to the Commonwealth, handles or supervises various appeals and reviews Commonwealth contracts, regulations and bond issues for form and legality.

Lieutenant Governor:

The lieutenant governor is a constitutional officer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The lieutenant governor is elected for a four year term in the same year as the governor. Each party picks a candidate for lieutenant governor independently of the governors. The winners of the party primaries are then teamed together in a governor/lieutenant governor ticket which runs together in the fall general election. The lieutenant governor presides in the Senate and is first in the line of succession to the governor; in the event the governor dies, resigns, or otherwise leaves office, the lieutenant governor becomes governor.

The office of lieutenant governor was created by the Constitution of 1873. As with the governor’s position, the Constitution of 1968 made the lieutenant governor eligible to succeed himself or herself for one additional four-year term.


The Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is the head of the executive branch of Pennsylvania’s state government and serves as the commander-in-chief of the state’s military forces.

The governor has a duty to enforce state laws, and the power to approve or veto bills passed by the Pennsylvania Legislature and to convene the legislature. The governor may grant pardons except in cases of impeachment, but only when recommended by the Board of Pardons.

The 1790 constitution abolished the council and replaced the president with a governor, and established a three-year term for governor commencing on the third Tuesday of the December following the election, with governors not allowed to serve more than nine out of any twelve years. The 1838 constitution moved the start of the term to the third Tuesday of the January following the election, and allowed governors to only serve six out of any nine years. The 1874 constitution lengthened the term to four years, and prohibited governors from succeeding themselves. The current constitution of 1968 changed this to allow governors to serve two consecutive terms. There are no limits on the number of terms a governor may serve in total as long as there is a four-year break after a second term.

Under the 1968 constitution, Milton Shapp was the first governor to serve 2 terms, and Tom Corbett was the first incumbent governor to lose a re-election bid.

If the office of governor becomes vacant through death, resignation, or conviction on impeachment, the lieutenant governor becomes governor for the remainder of the term; if the office is only temporarily vacant due to disability of the governor, the lieutenant governor only acts out the duties of governor. Should both offices be vacant, the president pro tempore of the state senate becomes governor. The position of lieutenant governor was created in the 1874 constitution; prior to then, the speaker of the senate would act as governor in cases of vacancy. Originally, the lieutenant governor could only act as governor; it was not until the 1968 constitution that the lieutenant governor could actually become governor in that fashion. The office of governor has been vacant for an extended period once, a 17-day gap in 1848 between the resignation of the previous governor and the swearing in of his acting successor. Governors and lieutenant governors are elected on the same ticket.