Burying The Lede In California

Most everyone knows the names of the two people vying to be California’s next governor. Hardly anyone knows the names of the two people who more than anyone else will affect the success or failure of the next governor.

Governors are not kings. They’re not even presidents. Article V of California’s Constitution commands the Governor to “see that the law is faithfully executed.” Article IV vests “the legislative power . . . in the California Legislature.” Thus, governors cannot pass laws without legislative consent. That’s why Jerry Brown has been unable to fix California’s budget, leaving education and other services as exposed as ever to recessions. Whether it’s to stop granting permanent employment to school teachers after only two years, to liberate nurse midwives to deliver babies without physician supervision, or to enact other legislation, governors and legislatures can’t act without each other.

Armed with that knowledge, ask yourself how much of the agendas of the two gubernatorial candidates could be implemented without legislative consent. The answer: Next to none. Even an Abe Lincoln could not successfully govern California without the consent of the legislature. That’s why GFC focuses on the state legislature.

Rarely a day passes that I don’t meet a Californian who knows next to nothing about their state legislature even though that is the legislature with the greatest responsibility for their domestic services — education, safety, health, transportation, work rules and much more — and the greatest impact on their daily lives. Yet they’re far more likely to know the name of their Member of Congress than their State Assemblymember or State Senator.

Which brings us back to the two people whose names a Governor Newsom or a Governor Cox would speak every day. They belong to the Speaker of the California State Assembly and President pro Tempore of the California State Senate. You have to look them up. That way you’re more likely to remember them. As well you should, because California’s future rests as much in their combined hands as in the next governor’s hands.


Originally appeared on Medium, 6/7/18.