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.”
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
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.
Historically, governors in Texas have been white
men, and Ann Richards is the most recent
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.
Most experts consider the powers of the governor to
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.
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.
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.
All appointments must be approved by two thirds of the
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
For at least the first two years of a term, a new governor
interact with agency boards dominated by appointees of the
The governor is restricted to remove his own appointees. He
can only do so with two-thirds approval of the senate.
Texas constitution gives the governor certain
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.
The governor also has limited law
He appoints the public safety commissioner.
He can take control of the Texas Ranger in
He can introduce legislation aimed at
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
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.
The state constitution requires the governor
to address the legislature on the conditions of
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.
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
The Texas legislature cannot override a post adjournment
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Clemency powers of the Texas governors are limited.
The governor has no independent power to pardon or
He can recommend to the Board of Pardon & Paroles and
approve/reject their recommendations of
1934, amendment took away the governors independent
By taking away pardon powers from the governor the
chances of the chief executive being directly involved in
graft or corruption lessened.
The only independent clemency power that the governor has
is the ability to grant a 30-day reprieve in a death penalty
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.
Governors often rely on informal powers to affect
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
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
Bush was criticized by Republicans for not being partisan enough
while the governor was able to forge a relationship with the
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
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
The governor influences public opinion more than any other state
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.
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
If governors close advisers share common views he/she can become
isolated from dissenting opinion; this could cause a policy mistake
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
Bush plead with Congress for a just distribution of
Both governors realized that they should use their
visibility in office to speak for Texas concerning the
The governor plays an important role in
international relations due to the growing
importance of international trades especially with
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.
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.
A competent staff is very important to effective
Staff members are involved in intergovernmental
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
Discussion of reform in the Texas executive branch should start with
realizing that the Texas Constitution was made to create a weak
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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