California Director of Finance Ana J. Matosantos

California Director of Finance Ana Matosantos, pictured here in 2010, is leaving Gov. Jerry Brown's administration. (John Mabanglo / EPA / December 6, 2010)

SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown's top budget advisor, Ana Matosantos, will leave his administration after guiding California's finances through years of economic strife.

Her last day on the job is Sept. 15, and she will be replaced by her deputy, Michael Cohen. The announcement comes one day after Brown signed the state's new budget into law.

Matosantos, 37, joined the Department of Finance in 2008 and was appointed director by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger the following year, making her the youngest person and first Latina to hold the post.

Brown kept her in place when he was elected in 2010. She is the only finance director to serve two governors from different political parties.

“During very tough economic times, Ana carried out her duties as finance director with insight, boundless energy and uncommon effectiveness,” the governor said in a statement on Friday. 

Matosantos faced massive budget gaps when she started working at the Department of Finance. Although California still faces steep financial challenges, those deficits have receded because of budget cuts, a slowly improving economy and temporary new taxes approved by voters last year.

She does not have any plans for a new job at this point, said a spokesman, H.D. Palmer. 

Matosantos earned a reputation as being wonky and circumspect, with a deep understanding of California's complex financial system. In an interview last year, she said piecing together the budget was like "trigonometry."

The goal, she said, was "trying to make sure we understand how all the pieces are fitting together, to make sure things happen according to the plan, and to adjust and adapt."

“As the state has dug itself out of the deepest of fiscal holes, no one has done more shoveling than Ana," said California Treasurer Bill Lockyer in a statement. "No one deserves more credit." 

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Twitter: @chrismegerian