The State Executive Branch

GUIDE TO READING

Main Idea

Much like the president at the notional level, governors act as the chief executives of their states and cany out the laws passed by their legislatures.

Key Terms line-Item veto, commute, parole

Reading Strategy

Organizing Information As you read, take notes on the qualifications, powers, and duties of governors by completing a chart like the one below.

Governors

Qu<J Iii ¡cillions

Powers

Duties

■ How are governors elected?

• What are the powers and duties of state governors?

Read to Learn

■ How are governors elected?

• What are the powers and duties of state governors?

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Governor Schwarzenegger

Office of Governor

As in the federal government;, every state government has an executive branch consisting of a chicf executive—die governor and a number of departments and agencies that carry out the business of die state.

Each state constitution includes a set of qualifications for the office of governor. In most states a governor must be an American citizen, ac least 30 years old, and a resident of the state for at least 5 years. Of course, serious candidates for the office of governor have many more qualifications. Most governors have previously been elected to other public offices or have been active in state politics. Many have had succcssful careers in law or business. Often, they are talented at public speaking and are able to "think on their feet"—meaning that they can give thoughtful and intelligent answers to challenging questions from reporters or from citizens in public forums.

llic voters of each state elect their governor directly. There is no Electoral College in state elections. Other than that difference, candidates for governor are nominated and clectcd in

292 Chapter 12 State Government

Governor Schwarzenegger in Action

In October 2003. Californians took action. In a stunning recall vote, Republican candidate and former actor Arnold Schwarzenegger became the new governor. Democratic Governor Gray Davis was out. Californians, in recent years, had faced an energy crunch, employment crunch, housing crunch, and now a huge. $38 billion budget deficit. They wanted new state leadership and they got it, gathering thousands of petition signatures to demand the recall. Schwarzenegger told his new constituents that,41 want to be the governor for the people. I want to represent everybody ! will not fail you. I will not disappoint you. And I will not let you down."

much the same way as the president of the United States. First, an individual must gain the nomination of a major political party, usually by winning a party primary. Then that party nominee runs in the general election.

Most governors serve four-year terms. In nearly every state, a governor can be impeached and removed from office for committing a crime. Tn several states, the voters themselves can take steps to unseat their governor by demanding a special "recall" election.

In most states, governors and lieutenant governors run as a team in elections. In the past they ran separately, making it possible for a governor to have a lieutenant governor from another political party. Typically, the lieutenant governor moves up to the top position if the governor leaves office. In most states, the lieutenant governor has only a few official duties, such as presiding over the state senate.

Powers and Duties of the Governor

Like the president of the United States, a governor heads the executive branch of state government and fills many of the same kinds of roles. A governor's most important role is that of the state's chicf executive. Ln this role the governor is responsible for carrying out the laws of the state, 'lb help with this job, the governor issues executive orders to a large state bureaucracy. The governor appoints some of the top officials of the bureaucracy, usually with the approval of the state senate, ln most states the governor is also responsible for preparing a budget and winning its approval from the legislature.

The governor is also the state's chief legislator. Although only the legislature has the power to adopt laws, the governor can play a part. He or she can suggest new bills and try to persuade the legislature to pass them, either by making speeches to the legislators or lobbying privately with leading members of the legislature.

All governors have the power to veto bills the legislature has passed. Indeed, most governors have greater veto power than the president of the United States has. Governors in many states have the power to veto specific parts of a bill an action called a Tine-item veto—while the president of the United States must either sign a bill just as it is or veto it completely. State legislatures may override governors' vetoes. Usually, however, overrides require a two-thirds vote, and they rarely happen.

Massachusetts' Governor Lt. Governor Jane Swift accepted a ceremonial key to the governor's office in 2001 to become the first female governor of Massachusetts.

What are the qualifications to become a governor?

Chapter 12 State Government 293

Governors also have certain judicial powers. A governor may grant pardons to convicted criminals or commute—reduce—a

Powers and Duties of the Governor

Judicial Leader Offers pardons and reprieves; Grants parole

Ceremonial Leader Creels important visiLors; Represents thn state

Judicial Leader Offers pardons and reprieves; Grants parole

Ceremonial Leader Creels important visiLors; Represents thn state

Chief Executive Carries out state laws; Appoints officials; Prepares a budget

Chief Legislator Proposes legislation; Approves or veto or legislation

Chief Executive Carries out state laws; Appoints officials; Prepares a budget

Chief Legislator Proposes legislation; Approves or veto or legislation

Commander in Chief In chargn ot the National Guard (slaLe militia}

Party Leader Leads the polilical parly in the state

Commander in Chief In chargn ot the National Guard (slaLe militia}

Evaluating Charts

Party Leader Leads the polilical parly in the state

A state governor has many of the same roles as the president of the United States. What does the role of chief legislator involve?

criminal's sentence. In states that permit capital punishment, for example, a governor may decide to commute a death sentence to life in prison. Governors also have the power to grant a prisoner a parole, an early release from prison, with certain restrictions.

Governors play other roles as well. Every governor is commander in chief of the state National Guard. The governor is the state leader of" his or her political party. The governor also serves as ceremonial leader of the state, greeting important visitors.

Until recently nearly all governors were white males. Since the 1960s many states have elected female governors. Several Southwestern states have elected Hispanic American governors. Washington State has had an Asian American governor. Virginia has had the only African American governor in American history.

ifiEQEEX) Recalling What legislative powers does a governor have?

Executive Departments

Not every governor has a cabinet, but every state has a number of top officials who are in charge of executive departments and who advise the governor on important issues related to their area of responsibility. Governors appoint many of these officials. In most states, some of these officials are clcctcd to office.. however.

While the top officials vary from state to state, most states have a few in common. Usually a secretary of state manages elections and maintains the state's official records. An attorney general represents the state in lawsuits and gives legal advice to the governor, state agcncics, and the legislature. A treasurer collects taxes and invests state funds. An auditor reviews the record keeping of state agencies to make certain that their money is used according to state law.

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Analyzing Visuals As part of the "welfare-reform" legislation in the 1990s, the federal government shifted significant responsibility for welfare programs to individual states. In the cartoonist's view, what is the impact of the federal government's decision to transfer responsibility for welfare to the states?

In addition, every state has a number of executive departments, agencies, boards, and commissions. Some, such as departments of justice, agriculture, and labor, are like their federal counterparts. Others exist only at the state level. Most states have a department or board of health, which runs programs in disease prevention and health education, and departments of public works and highways, which are responsible for building and maintaining roads, bridges, public buildings, and other state properties. Most states also have a state welfare board to help the unemployed and people living in poverty.

Describing Whet does a state auditor do?

SECTION

ASSESSMENT

Checking for Understanding

1. Key Terms Use the following terms in a sentence or shorl paragraph related to state governors: line-item veto, commute, parole.

Reviewing Main Ideas

2. Identify What judicial powers do governors have?

3. Describe Whal role does en attorney general perform in state governments?

Critical Thinking

4. Drawing Conclusions Do you think c governor should have Lhe power to pardon or commute the scntcncc of z person convicted of a crime? Why or why noL?

5. Making Comparisons In a char I like the one below, compare the powers of a president and steto governors.

P'csidcnt's Powers

Governors' PoWHiS

6. Describe Study the chart that lisls lhe powers and duties of the governor on page 294. What duties do governors fulfill as chief execulive?

it BE AN ACTIVE CITIZEN it

7. Write Read a local newspaper for the next five days. Write a brief summary of all lhe arLicles related to your state's governor. For efich article, indicate which power or duty of lhe governor is involved.

State Government 295

Using Library Resources

Write a one-sentence description of a state issue Lhai intcresLs you. Bridly summarize rlie information you find in the library on your topic. Below your summary, name the library resource or resources you used.

PfiUilice key skills wilh GI«ri«op's Skillbuilder Interactive Workbook CD-ROM. Level 1.

Using Library Resources

The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.. is the largest research library in the United States.

figures. The World Almanac, for instance, lists a wide variety of information, from cultural to political facts. The Statistical Abstract of the United States and the Historical Abstract of the United States provide political and economic data from colonial times to the present. Refer to atlases for geographical data. ■ For general information, check an encyclopedia orthe card catalog, which may be computerized. In the card catalog, you will find descriptions of books, videos, and other library resources related to your topic. • If you need help, ask a reference librarian.

Practicing the Skill

On a separate sheet of paper, list the library resources you might use to find information on the following topics.

O Your governor's speech on raising state taxes

© Names of your state's representatives in the Senate and House of Representatives 0 Biography of your favorite president O Dollars your state spends on public education © United States territories in 1350 O A book about the president

—Applying the Skill-

Write a one-sentence description of a state issue Lhai intcresLs you. Bridly summarize rlie information you find in the library on your topic. Below your summary, name the library resource or resources you used.

PfiUilice key skills wilh GI«ri«op's Skillbuilder Interactive Workbook CD-ROM. Level 1.

Why Learn Ttiis Skill?

Perhaps you have a report to write. Maybe you just want to know more about a topic. Either circumstance can send you to the library, looking for information. The success of your search depends on how skillfully you use the many resources the library offers.

Learning ttie Skill

To make efficient use of library resources, follow these steps;

♦ Define the topic and subtopics of your search.

♦ For current events, you might start with the newspaper and periodicals section. Use the Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature to locate magazine articles on your topic.

♦ Use almanacs and abstracts in the library's reference section for condensed facts and

SECTION J

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