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Chapter 7 state and local

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  • 1. Andreya Barrera & Leslie Rodriguez Period 3
  • 2. When candidates run for governor they naturally campaign on bold, broad themes regarding how they will transform Texas.  If asked who is the head of state government, most Texas would say “the governor.” 
  • 3.     In order to be elected to any executive office in Texas a person must be at least 30 years old, a Texas resident to 5 years a U.S. citizen, and a registered voter. Successful candidates for governor tend to be financially well off. They spend four years building credibility and name recognition with their party. In 2002, the top two candidates combined spent almost $100 million on their election efforts. Tony Sanchez, wealthy democrat spent more than $160 million. In 2006, Rick Perry spent $30 million.
  • 4. Historically, governors in Texas have been white men, and Ann Richards is the most recent exception.  Most Texas governors are married, protestant, and between the ages of late 40’s and early 60’s when first elected office.  Attempts to limit terms have failed multiple times.  In 2006, Perry became the first Texas incumbent governor to be twice reelected to four year terms. 
  • 5. Most experts consider the powers of the governor to be limited.  Compared to many states formal powers of the Texas governor are limited.  Formal powers are powers granted by the constitution or statutes.  The governor has little budgetary authority, and in 41 other states the governor has the primary responsibility for creating the budget.  The governor still has several notable formal powers. 
  • 6. The primary purpose of the executive branch is to carry out the laws.  The governor can appoint executive boards and commissions, as well as exercise law enforcement and military responsibilities. 
  • 7.        The governor of Texas has significant power to appoint board and commission members. It is a common practice in Texas for governors to appoint major campaign contributors to these positions. Appointment often receive close scrutiny as to the segments of the population represented. Hispanics made up only 11% of Bush’s first term appointment and 7% of African Americans. One legislative restraint on the governor’s appointment power is the practice of senatorial courtesy. Senatorial courtesy is a discretion of allowing senators to derail a governor’s nomination from with their home district. If the senator disapproves the choice, tradition dictates the appointment to be defeated.
  • 8.     All appointments must be approved by two thirds of the senate. The major restraint on the governor’s power in the appointment process six-year overlapping terms of board members. Overlapping terms- terms of appointed board members that are staggered to ensure continuity of experience. For at least the first two years of a term, a new governor interact with agency boards dominated by appointees of the previous governor. The governor is restricted to remove his own appointees. He can only do so with two-thirds approval of the senate.
  • 9. Texas constitution gives the governor certain military powers.  He can declare martial law, the power to impose military rule during a crisis.  The governor has the power to enact and enforce curfews and take other unconventional actions.  He can call out the Texas Guard in an emergency.  These powers are limited because military power resides with the national government. 
  • 10.  The governor also has limited law enforcement powers.  He appoints the public safety commissioner.  He can take control of the Texas Ranger in certain situations.  He can introduce legislation aimed at combating crime.
  • 11. Session-calling power One of the governors most significant powers is the ability to call special sessions. This allows the governor to put the legislature in the spotlight and pressure it into action. If it fails to perform in a special session, the legislature runs the risk of incurring the wrath of voters. In most states the legislature can call itself into session but not in Texas. The legislature cannot bring any issue to a vote in special session unless the governor gives approval. Each special session can last no more than 30 days, the governor can call an unlimited number of sessions.
  • 12.  The state constitution requires the governor to address the legislature on the conditions of Texas.  This “state to state” address occurs at the beginning of each legislative session.  It gives the governor the opportunity to address the entire legislative session.
  • 13.        Studies of gubernatorial powers routinely rank the Texas governor the lowest. Only seven governors ranked below Texas in veto power. Veto power is the ability of the governor to strike down legislation, subject to override. The Texas constitution gives the governor 10 days to decide whether to veto a bill, sign it, or let it become a law without his/her signature. The Texas legislature cannot override a post adjournment veto. The governor can actually accomplish more without the threat of the veto than with the actual use of it. If the governor express opposition sponsors are most likely to compromise.
  • 14. Line Item Veto Power  The governor has the authority to a line item veto, this allows him or her to veto one or more items in the appropriations bill while signing the rest into law.
  • 15.         42 states allow the governor to be responsible for drafting the budget. Texas is one of the 8 states where the governor shares power with the legislature. The Legislative Budget Board controls the budget board in Texas. In 2003, Perry submitted a budget of zeros; his point was the legislature should start with a blank slate when prepping the state’s appropriations bill. The lack of budgetary power expose governor’s weaknesses. The governor can only transfer or withhold funds from an agency approved by the LBB. In 1991, the legislation weakened the executive budgetary authority by allowing legislators tot ignore the governor during deliberations on transfers or withholding. The line item veto helps the governor retain a major role in spending decision.
  • 16. Appointment Power  The governor has a big part in shaping the judiciary.  He appoints judges to fill vacancies at the district level. (half of Texas judges were appointed)  The Senate must approve the governor’s nominee by at least 2/3 concurrence.
  • 17. Clemency powers of the Texas governors are limited.  The governor has no independent power to pardon or parole.  He can recommend to the Board of Pardon & Paroles and approve/reject their recommendations of pardon/sentence reduction.  1934, amendment took away the governors independent powers.  By taking away pardon powers from the governor the chances of the chief executive being directly involved in graft or corruption lessened. 
  • 18.      The only independent clemency power that the governor has is the ability to grant a 30-day reprieve in a death penalty case. Today the reprieve is seldom granted. Politicians cannot be soft on crime if they plan to be reelected. 1979, Governor Clements issued a stay for Randal Dale Adams, who sat years on death row. Later was released with evidence that exonerated him. Governors can only issue one reprieve per prisoner. 1993, Ann Richards issued a stay in the Leonel Herrera case, rescheduled for prosecution. With no reprieves the prisoner was put to death.
  • 19. Governors often rely on informal powers to affect government operations.  These powers lie outside the constitutional mandate of office, however, are a crucial part of the total arsenal of weapons the governor has at his/her disposal. 
  • 20.      Governor leads with his/ her Political party. They are to articulate political positions, and speak for their party. He can present a legislature package reflecting on the values of the party. He convinces members to vote the party line on key votes. Be able to work with members of the opposite party and not be so partisan. Bush was criticized by Republicans for not being partisan enough while the governor was able to forge a relationship with the Democratic leaders. 1994, Bush was asked about the controversial Republican state platform and claimed to not even have read it. 2002, Perry’s election was the first time since Reconstruction, the Republicans won governorship and control of both houses of legislature.
  • 21.        Because people in and out of Texas see the governor as the state’s leader it allows them to achieve goals in areas that could be beyond the office’s constitutional or statutory reach. Governor strives to project a positive image for the state. Governor Richards used her office platform to induce businesses to move to Texas. In a weak governor system, acting as an advocate is one of the most valuable roles. The governor influences public opinion more than any other state official. He has access to statewide networks, newspapers and medias. He can bring pressure on the legislature and other members of the executive branch through manipulation.
  • 22.         Texas Governors advantages due to media: The ability to go into the living room of every house in the state. Texas governors have failed to use this to their full advantage. Most prefer to have a hands-on approach for legislature influence. Perry was the first Texas governor to have a blog, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr present. Because Bush used his personality and willingness to listen to people to get into the government process; he was able to get into the legislative process and earn favorable reviews. Interacting with cross-section legislative members helps the governor avoid being isolated. Often chief executive members surround themselves with like minds. If governors close advisers share common views he/she can become isolated from dissenting opinion; this could cause a policy mistake appearing obvious.
  • 23. Richards and Bush actively lobbied congress for programs that benefited Texas  Richards worked to make sure that the state would be paid back after the dismissal of the Super Collider project.  Bush plead with Congress for a just distribution of Medicaid money.  Both governors realized that they should use their visibility in office to speak for Texas concerning the states interests. 
  • 24. The governor plays an important role in international relations due to the growing importance of international trades especially with Latin America.  Due to Texas’ relationships with these countries, the governor has the job of being a casual representative between them.  Because of Texas’ special relations with Mexico the governor became the informal ambassador as well. 
  • 25. A governor’s approach to his job has a significant impact on the power he will handle.  Successful governors like Bush and Richards created a different, at ease working environment and kept it that way.  Some governors in the past came to office in a way creators of the Texas Constitution wished. And results showed that their impact was minor. 
  • 26. A competent staff is very important to effective governing.  Staff members are involved in intergovernmental dealings.  Also they are to carry out the governor’s policies.  The staff will work with local or national levels of government to help with policy performance.  One of the most important offices is the Legislative Office. 
  • 27.       Discussion of reform in the Texas executive branch should start with realizing that the Texas Constitution was made to create a weak executive. Even with the problems we face with a weak governor, people would be upset if we gave the governor any more power. Although in some states, giving the governor more power could help, it does not guarantee that the overall government will be better. A way to increase the governor’s power is to give him/her removal power over the executive department appointees. Meaning that the board term should conform to the governor’s term. The governor could appoint the attorney general, comptroller, and other executive officers with policy-making powers . We could return all budget preparation authority to him/her.

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