The Texas Executive

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The Texas Executive

  1. 1. The Executive Branch of Texas Government
  2. 2. Historical Perspective Office of governor is institutionally weak Governor has no authority to form cabinet as President does Governor does appoint members of commissions and boards 1876 Constitution retained the plural executive structure which has independently elected officeholders
  3. 3. Historical Perspective Governor appoints Secretary of State, only statewide appointed officeholder Some restrictions have been loosened, but changes have not significantly enhanced authority of governor Amendments have been passed:  to allow Legislature to set governor’s salary  increasing term from two to four years  to allow removal (with Senate approval) of persons from board or commissions whom the governor has appointed
  4. 4. Structure of Plural Executive Article 4, Section 1 of 1876 Constitution created executive branch, including:  Governor (CEO of state)  Lieutenant Governor  Comptroller of Public Accounts  Treasurer (no longer in existence)  Land Commissioner  Attorney General
  5. 5. Structure of Plural Executive Later additions were:  Railroad Commission  State Board of Education All are elected statewide, except Board of Education (elected in districts) The agencies of these officials are autonomous, independent of the governor
  6. 6. Structure of Plural Executive Some argue that plural executive’s effect on governor’s control is minimal because of little history of significant conflict Others argue that governor never pursues controversial policies in order to “get along” Our governor’s position is consistently ranked as “weak”
  7. 7. Qualifications for Governor Thirty years old U.S. citizen Texas resident for at least five years
  8. 8. Characteristics Mostly well-educated, middle-aged and white male Only two women elected Increased importance on personal wealth or ability to raise funds Previous public service provides base for electoral support
  9. 9. Removal from Office Impeachment  Initiated in the House  Tried by the Senate On death or incapacity, Lt. Governor replaces until next election Lt. Governor also acts if Governor is outside the state
  10. 10. Compensation Salary is $115,345.00 per year Mansion provided with staff Security detail Travel expenses Access to state-owned planes and cars
  11. 11. Governor’s Powers Powers have ebbed and flowed over the years Constitution of 1845 modeled powers on those of the Presidency Successive constitutions reduced the powers of the office
  12. 12. Legislative Powers Outlines legislative priorities in the State of the State address Communication with lawmakers continues throughout session “Bully pulpit” permits mobilization of public support Veto threat (especially line item) can influence legislators’ decisions
  13. 13. Legislative Powers Ability to call special session is powerful, but it can backfire if legislature fails to act or liberally interprets subject matter of the call Governor’s proclamation calling a special session must be carefully drafted - once called, Governor can increase agenda items
  14. 14. Legislative Powers Veto  Texas has strong veto power  During the session, governor has ten days to veto a bill – if not, it becomes law  Legislature can override with 2/3 vote  After adjournment, governor has 20 days to veto  Line–item veto is very powerful, but legislature has attempted to get around it through “lump sum” appropriations
  15. 15. Budgetary Powers Weaker than most states Legislative Budget Board (LBB) and governor both make recommendations, but Legislature usually follows LBB Governor can propose transfer of funds during interims, with approval of LBB
  16. 16. Appointive Powers Appoints members to over 200 boards and commissions (with Senate confirmation) Most board members serve staggered six-year terms Governor can only remove his or her appointees (with Senate approval)
  17. 17. Appointive Powers Senatorial courtesy permits a senator to block appointment of someone who lives in that senator’s district Usually avoided by clearing nominees with senators Governor has an Appointments Secretary, who screens nominees for availability, competence, acceptability and support by key groups
  18. 18. Appointive Powers All vacancies at district court level and above are appointed subject to Senate confirmation Any vacancy in U.S. Senate results in governor appointing replacement Governor can also appoint successor to any statewide officer other than Lt. Governor
  19. 19. Judicial Powers Eighteen member Board of Pardons and Paroles decides release dates for prisoners, and can recommend pardons Governor can grant executive clemency  30-day stay of execution (one time only)  Full pardon, conditional pardon or commutation of death sentence (only with approval of Board of Pardons and Paroles)
  20. 20. Military Powers Serves as “Commander-in-Chief” of militia, except during wartime Can call out National Guard during times of riot or other emergency
  21. 21. Informal Resources Staff  Staff is around 200, with some making more than the governor  Staff will ideally enhance the governor’s political, administrative and policy-making capabilities  Chosen on abilities and loyalty  Control access to and information for the governor
  22. 22. Informal Resources Media  Good working relationship can help promote agenda Political Party  Growing two-party system permits work with legislature Interest Groups  Groups can be of help in elections and can influence legislators
  23. 23. Recent Governors Bill Clements  First Republican since Reconstruction  Appointed many conservative Democrats to boards and commissions  Appointed first women and African- American to highest courts  Was a public relations disaster  Was successful in helping Republican party become majority
  24. 24. Recent Governors Mark White  Very good with media  Confrontational style lost teacher pay raise  HB 72 (Perot Commission) provided some pay raise but required teacher “literacy test” (as well as “no pass, no play”)  Not much legislative leadership
  25. 25. Recent Governors Ann Richards  Activist  Lobbied for state lottery, promising that it would be used for education  Little input in legislative matters  Despite high approval ratings, she didn’t get involved in the 1993 session, except to kill a concealed carry bill
  26. 26. Recent Governors George W. Bush  Low key style (underestimate him!)  Excellent relations with lawmakers  Won all four legislative priorities in 1995  Failed to win substantial property tax relief  Won over 70 percent of vote for second term
  27. 27. Recent Governors Rick Perry  First Aggie  Highly criticized “absence” from the legislative process during 2001 session  Highly controversial vetoes of bills  Physician reimbursement  Medicaid  Judicial pay raises
  28. 28. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst  Primarily legislative office, but powerful because of role and statewide constituency  Chairs LBB  Presiding officer of the Senate
  29. 29. Attorney General Greg Abbott  Chief legal officer, defending state laws and regulatory orders  Enforces anti-trust and child support laws  Primarily civil, with little criminal responsibility  Advisory opinions to state and local entities
  30. 30. Comptroller Susan Combs  Primary tax administrator, accounting officer and revenue estimator  Budget can’t become law without certification that it falls within revenue estimates
  31. 31. Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson  Manages state owned lands, including mineral rights  Administers Veterans Land Board program
  32. 32. Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples  Created by statute  Carries out laws regulating and benefiting agriculture  Responsible for administration of consumer protection laws in areas of weights and measures, packaging and labeling, and marketing
  33. 33. Secretary of State Esperanza “Hope” Andrade  Appointed by governor  Primary function is to administer state election laws  Also handles corporate charters and processes extraditions
  34. 34. State Treasurer Created in 1876 Constitution as custodian of state funds Abolished in 1995 Duties transferred to Comptroller
  35. 35. Elected Boards and Commissions Railroad Commission  Originally designed to regulate intrastate operations of railroads and trucking  Federal government undertook that work  Three-member commission now regulates oil and gas production and lignite mining State Board of Education  Fifteen member elected board helps oversee public education system

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