There are a number of political institutions in California. California’s constitutional officers, that is those who are provided for by the California Constitution, are among those important political institutions. I’ll provide a brief overview of all of California’s Constitutional Officers, save the Governor, below. Two of the officers below are usually appointees of a Governor in other states – the Insurance Commissioner and the Superintendent of Public Instruction – but are elected here in California.
The Lt. Governor runs separately from the Governor – unlike how the President and Vice President run on the same ticket. The role is largely ceremonial. The Lt. Governor is the President of the State Senate, but only has the authority to cast a vote in the case of a tie. They also serve on a number of state boards.
The Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer for the state of California. He or she is responsible for ensuring that the laws of the state are followed. They carry out their constitutional duty through the Department of Justice (DOJ) which has more than 4,500 employees that are engaged in a variety of law enforcement and legal services throughout the state.
The Controller is the chief fiscal officer of the state of California. They are responsible for the accounting and disbursement of California’s fiscal resources, as well as auditing the state departments that use those resources. They also serve on seventy different boards and commissions.
The Treasurer has broad authority in the areas of investment and finance. They also serve as the state’s lead asset manager, banker, and financier.
Secretary of State
The Secretary of State’s office oversees campaigns and elections, lobbyist filings, campaign expenditure filings, and business filings in California. The SOS’s office is comprised of more than five hundred people.
The Department of Insurance, which is headed by the Insurance Commissioner, was created in 1865 as part of a national effort to regulate state insurance. Today, the California Department of Insurance (CDI) claims to be the largest consumer protection agency in California. CDI oversees more than 1,300 insurance companies, based in and out of California.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
The State Superintendent, also known as the SPI, is a nonpartisan office. They execute all the functions of the California Department of Education. They are also the state’s chief spokesperson for California’s public schools and is an ex officio member of the governing boards for California’s higher education system.
Board of Equalization
The job of the BOE primarily focuses on property tax assessments. In 2017, the Legislature created the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration and reassigned many of the BOE’s functions to the newly created CDTFA.