Structure of California’s Government Headed by the governor of the state, the state govt. of CA replicates the Federal govt. It has three branches that perform their assigned tasks and keep within the limits set by the constitution. These branches are: Legislature Executive Judiciary While this division has been created to give structure to the government and ensure its smooth and effective functioning, there is, more importantly, the need to keep the power of the branches in check and to make them accountable to each other.
There is a system of ‘checks and balances’ that comes into play with this segregation of duties and separation of power. This system’s inception has been attributed to Montesquieu. (Wikipedia. org) Governor The governor is the head of the state and commander of the state’s militia, and he is the supreme executive power (ca. gov). He addresses the legislature with the state address at the beginning of the session, informing the body of the situation, the needs, and the recommendations for legislative action.
He can require, by proclamation, a “special session” of the legislature to act on subjects specially specified by him. He also presents the legislature with the proposed budget and can refuse to sign a bill that can only become a law with his approval. Here again he is limited in his ‘veto’ power because he can be overridden by a two-thirds majority vote in both houses. (Capitol museum. gov) Legislature CA has a ‘bicarmel’ legislature, i. e. it has two separate legislative chambers, the Senate (40 members) and the Assembly (80 members).
While the senators stand guard to the ‘liberty of the commonwealth’, the assembly members are bound to passing just laws that ‘represent and protect all the citizens of CA’. Both senators and assembly members do most of their work in committees (policy, rules, joint, special, and fiscal), and Legislators analyze, consult, debate, and hear testimony from both private and public interests on every bill. ”Bicarmelism” is intended to reduce the ‘relative’ power of the legislature by having “different modes of election and different principles of action” (an argument instituted against the Seventeenth Amendment)
Executive Responsible for administering and enforcing the law in the state, this branch is headed by the governor and comprises of many state departments that are headed by elected, appointed, and hired officials. Passing of a Bill To truly understand the process undergone and the roles played by the legislature and the executive to make a bill a law, let us examine the recent BILL NUMBER: AB 38 introduced on December 4, 2006, which was signed by the governor on 9/27/2008 and would become effective legislation on January 1, 2009. (http://www. leginfo. a. gov) The actions of the senate and the assembly, hearings, debates, amendments, voting are evident in the timeline of the bill in the legislature: Signed by the Governor (executive head) of CA on September 27, 2008 PASSED THE SENATE AUGUST 21, 2008 PASSED THE ASSEMBLY AUGUST 29, 2008 AMENDED IN SENATE AUGUST 18, 2008 AMENDED IN SENATE AUGUST 11, 2008 AMENDED IN SENATE AUGUST 4, 2008 AMENDED IN SENATE JUNE 17, 2008 AMENDED IN SENATE MAY 6, 2008 AMENDED IN SENATE APRIL 14, 2008 AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY MAY 1, 2007 AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY MARCH 8, 2007
These dates and stages are a clear indication of the fact that the actual legislation is shaped and polished in the legislature, and that the executive body has little to contribute to its becoming a law. Veto power is certainly a resort, but it gives limited maneuverability to the governor. This is an example of cooperation of the two branches. “Assembly Bill 38 merges the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) and Office of Homeland Security (OHS) into a single, streamlined cabinet-level agency and legislation that enhances emergency assistance to disaster victims. ” (http://www. oes. ca. gov/)
Gubernatorial Power California’s laws limit this power to a large extent with regard to the legislature. A study conducted by Dr. Thad Beyle (Politics in American States – Comparative Analysis) examines gubernatorial power in various areas of function in the 50 states and has compiled the data of those states for certain terms. The governor of CA has maintained a strong position in some areas while vacillating in some, or displaying a considerable decline in others. Using a scale of 1-5 in which 5 is the strongest, statistics maybe examined to see changes / typical / trends in CA – 2000 to 2007 Governor’s Budget Power: 3
Governor’s Veto Power: 5 Governor’s Institutional Power: 3. 2 (3. 4 in 2000) The Governor Rating in the year 2000 placed CA’s governor at an overall rating of 3. 4 and a rank of 29 among the nation. What is interesting to note is the rating given to ‘Power of the Legislature to Change Governor’s Budget’ which was 1 on a 1 – 5 scale in a study conducted by Dr. Thad Beyle. This shows the CA governor as wielding a certain amount of influence in the legislature’s passing of his proposed budget, Of course, the constitution mandates that the budget be balanced and, if not, then the previous year’s budget remain effective.
This already puts limitations and expectations in the budget’s formulation. Executive Order Another form of legislation is an executive order. Executive orders as issued by state governors are not laws, but do have the same binding nature. An example of specific power that is vested in the governor and that may not be overridden unless it is in conflict with the Article of the constitution is an Executive order that he can issue in case of an urgent need, Sometimes these orders may become laws. In the face of the economic crisis, drought situations, and emergencies, the governor of CA has issued several orders. ttp://www. californiaprogressreport. com/2008/07/schwarzenegger_81. html December 20, 2008 Controller John Chiang today issued the following statement in response to Governor Schwarzenegger’s executive order to implement furloughs and layoffs: “This is one of many painful results stemming from the inability of the Governor and Legislature to agree on responsible solutions…. ” (Giving a clear view of difference of opinion between the executive and the legislature. ) The order was implemented and the offices are closed on the 1st and 3rd Friday of every month. http://www. aliforniaprogressreport. com/2008/12/democrats_respo. html March 12, 2009 The California Universal Health Care Act is nearly identical to legislation (SB 840) that was introduced in 2007 by former Senator Sheila Kuehl. The California Legislature passed SB 840 in 2008, but it was vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. (This legislation would be along the lines of the Obama administration’s plans for healthcare. It will be interesting to watch the outcome since the earlier veto held good. ) http://www. californiaprogressreport. com/2009/03/new_bill_by_mar. html July 31, 2008 ttp://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Executive_order_(United_States) In an executive order that is part of the 2009-10 proposed budget, Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to cut down the salaries of 200,000 state workers to the federal minimum wage in the face of the economic crisis. Here we see an excellent example of executive-legislative balance of power. To quote the governor’s response to criticism from the workers, Californians, and elected Democrats,” I have to make sure that we pay our bills and that we have the money. So, there is an executive order that I will be signing on Thursday. The governor also spurned the disapproval of the State Controller Democratic John Chiang for this order, and in reaction to the statement of Democratic State Controller John Chiang regarding the absence of the Governor’s legal authority to make this order and to have the State Controller’s Office comply with it, the Governor said, “Look, the Controller has his opinion of what he wants to do. He is a constitutional officer and he runs his office his way. I think the law is very clear that he has to follow through and do exactly what our executive order says.
We hope that we all work together. ”} http://www. californiaprogressreport. com/2008/07/schwarzenegger_81. html At this point the Democratic State Controller has used the last effective resort. To seek support from the citizens. John Garamendi, California’s Democratic Lieutenant Governor wrote a letter statement asking the Governor to see it from the perspective of the workers: “I write to you today regarding the proposed executive order to reduce the minimum wage of 200,000 of California’s state workers to the federal minimum wage of $6. 5 an hour. “As you contemplate signing this executive order, please ask yourself – how would you feed and care for your family on $262 per week ($1,048 per month)? How would your hardworking staff fare on these minimal earnings? Could you and your family do it for one week? “It is our duty, as elected officials of this great State, to find solutions to the many challenging problems that face California, such as the state budget. Those solutions should always look to improve the quality of life for all Californians, not impede it. The question arises, is this partisan decision? Are the parties pitting against each other? The answer lies in the statement issued by the Republicans in response to this position of the Governor: “Republicans understand the urgency of getting the budget done as soon as possible, which is our main focus right now. We are working very hard to avoid drastic measures like the one that is being proposed. Republicans are committed to crafting a responsible budget plan that reforms our broken system while protecting taxpayers. In this case there is a “multiple disconnect”. The executive order overrides the need for legislators to play a role, the executive body is at loggerheads at even the highest level, and the majority party does not necessarily support the governor’s decision. Based on the statistics from the past years (Dr. Thad Beyle), the governor’s budget has almost always received a 5 on the 1-5 scale. Since this order is part of the budget, it will be interesting to note the 2009-10 Budget’s passage. Critical Viewpoint
In reality, no democratic system can exist with an absolute separation of powers of the complete absence of the same. It is, therefore, a ‘principle’ that these separate bodies are established on, but their true working involves a common ground and liaison. Arguably, there is no real distinction between the two branches. An analogy has been drawn to compare the working relationship of these to that of an architect, a contractor, and an owner. Professor Karl Manheim and Allan Ides claim that “the separation among the branches is not and never was intended to be airtight”. Loyola Law School) The veto power is their proof in favor of this argument as it is evidence of “the executive exercising legislative power”. One might also consider the CA governor’s power to proclaim a “special session” for action on specific subjects as another form of executive ‘control’ over the legislature. In summation, the legislature has the power and the executive branch the responsibility to ‘preserve, protect, and defend’ the laws and constitution of the United States. Being vassals of the same master they finally do overlap in their service.