The Governor of California is the chief executive of the California state government, whose responsibilities include making annual “State of the State” addresses to the California State Legislature, submitting the budget, and ensuring that state laws are enforced. The position was created in 1849, before California became a state.
The current governor is Jerry Brown, a Democrat who was elected on November 2, 2010, and previously served as Governor of California from 1975-1983. If Brown serves for more than two years and nine months into his current term, he will surpass Earl Warren as the longest-serving governor in terms of cumulative service in California state history.
The Executive Budget – The governor has the final responsibility for preparing and submitting to the legislature an annual budget containing most of anticipated state income and expenditures. The final budget requires a two-thirds approval of the legislature.
The Veto – The governor has the option to veto a bill within 12 days after being received from the California State Legislature. The Legislature can override a veto by a two-thirds majority vote in both the Assembly and the Senate. The governor may exercise a line-item veto, rejecting individual items in any appropriations bill.
Recommending Legislation – The governor may not formally introduce legislation, however many proposals for legislative action emanate from the governor’s office. The political influence of the governor dictates the probability of success or failure of the governor’s agenda.
Calling Special Sessions – The governor may convene the legislature “on extra ordinary occasions” to consider only subjects specified in the governor’s proclamation. In practice, this power is used frequently, usually in concert with normal sessions. The purpose is to force the legislature to address the governor’s legislative program.
Appointing State Officers – Although several of the positions of the executive branch of California are directly elected, the governor appoints most of the top administrative officers to the various departments and boards that govern California. Additionally, unexpired terms of certain elected officials, including U.S. senators, state executive officers and judges of the state court.
Power as Political Leader – The governor by virtue of the office becomes the de facto leader of his or her party. Furthermore, because of California’s immense size, the governor is often spoken of as a potential presidential candidate.
Commander in Chief of the State Militia – The governor may activate the California State Militia at any time to compliment local law enforcement. While this may be done at the governors discretion, it most often comes by request of a local law official. The California National Guard may also be called upon, subject to Presidential approval.
Executive Clemency – Except for convictions during impeachment, the governor may grant pardons, reprieves and commutations of sentences to individuals convicted of any felony.
Role in Higher Education – The governor also has full membership and voting powers to the Regents of the University of California, the governing board of the University of California system, along with other elected officials. A majority of members on the Regents of the University of California are appointed by the governor. Similarly, the governor has full membership and voting rights on the Board of Trustees of the California State University, and appoints a majority of its members. The governor also appoints all of the members of the Board of Governors of the California Community College System. Governors are elected by popular ballot and serve terms of four years, with a term limit of two terms, if served after November 6, 1990.
Governors take office on the first Monday after January 1 after their election.