In preparation for today’s Primary election in California – PSA: Don’t forget to vote – we are releasing a quick background of each of the Constitutional Officers and what they actually do in the California government.
Today, we are covering California’s Governor. Our current governor is Edmund G. Brown, known more commonly as Jerry Brown.
Most voters know about the Governor and some of the basic duties he or she has, however, there are some interesting lesser-known powers held by the Governor.
First, the Governor’s most well-known duty is signing into law bills passed by the California State Legislature. However, in contrast to the President of the United States, the California Governor has a pocket signature, meaning if the Governor fails to sign or veto a bill within the time allotted, the bill is passed and automatically becomes law without his or her signature. Conversely, the U.S. President has a pocket veto.
Obviously, the Governor has the power to veto bills passed by the California State Legislature. Vetoes can only be overruled by a two-thirds vote in both houses of the Legislature. He or she can also can also “line item veto” specific items within a bill or the state budget while leaving other items intact.
It is very rare that a Legislature will override the Governor’s veto. In California, “A veto override is a full-frontal assault on a governor’s authority, […] the political cost of taking on a governor usually far outweighs the policy gain that would come from overriding their veto,” said Thad Kousser, a political science professor at the University of California, San Diego. The last time the Legislature overruled a Governor’s veto was during Governor Brown’s first administration in 1979, where the Legislature overruled Governor Brown’s veto to give state workers a 14.5% pay hike.
The California Constitution allows for the Governor to assign and reorganize functions among executive officers and agencies and their employees, unless the executive officers are elected. The Governor is also granted the power to control the militia and pardon people facing conviction in California. Of course all of these powers are subject to statutory limitations made by the California Legislature.
The Governor must also report to the Legislature each calendar year on the condition of the State – known as the State of the State address – and may make recommendations on future legislation. These recommendations happen regularly, such as when Governor Brown spearheaded the campaigns for a Rainy Day Fund for the next economic recession in 2014.
Within the first 10 days of each calendar year, the Governor is legally required to submit a balanced budget to the Legislature. In turn, the Legislature is legally required to adopt a balanced budget by midnight on June 15 of each calendar year.