The best way of understanding the operations of the American government is by first understanding the government at the state level. The government can be said to be based on executive power at the state through the governor and legislative power through the legislature. These two arms of the government at the state level have various formal and informal powers. They are also inter-related and check on each other’s excesses when they play their roles effectively. According to analysts, New York State has produced more presidents and presidential candidates than any other state in the country. This is due to the amount of power that New York senators wield. Once elected, the New York governor is immediately considered as a national leader. He also becomes one of the most powerful leaders in the country and often has access to and influence on all the prominent media houses in the country. The New York Legislature has a bi-cameral house unlike other states in the country. It also has very powerful house leaders and speakers. (Fording 12).
In New York State, the sitting governor is considered by the media as a potential presidential candidate and therefore has a lot of influence. Likewise, political analysts term New York governors to be among the strongest because of their inherent powers. This is due to the fact that their terms run for four years unlike their counterparts in other states who run for only two years. The second major reason is that the governor is one of the four statewide elected officials. (Schneier 156) The governor also appoints the deputy governor, comptroller, attorney general and cabinet ministers.
Lastly, New York’s governor not only has the power to draft the executive budget but also has the power to veto some items added by the legislature. He has the power of removal. This means that under the states’ constitution; he can remove heads of departments, members of boards of commissions among others. To do this he has to give the concerned officer a copy of charges against them and a chance to defend themselves. Moreover, he is the commander in chief of the states’ armed forces.
In most significant cases, the formal powers of the New York governor closely parallel those of the president in Washington. Key among this is the power to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed and to grant reprieve and pardons to prisoners. He also appoints members of the courts of appeal, supreme courts, and most important executive agencies with the advice and consent of the states’ senate. As with the president, the real powers of the governor largely depend on his ability to use effectively the parchment powers granted to them by the formal constitution. (Zimmerman 138)
Beyond constitutional powers, the governor has a lot of resources at his disposal that greatly consolidate his formal powers. An example of this is the over 200 members of the personal staff that he commands. Moreover, the New York governor appoints more than 2500 high-level officials and has considerable influence in the appointment of thousands of other bureaucratic officials who are exempt from civil service regulations. The governor has extensive ability to shape his own administration which is considered independent from the senate. Besides, he has unlimited access to key media houses in America. Together with the governors of California and Texas, they are national figures due to the size of their electoral constituencies. (Zimmerman 139)
New York governors usually run expensive and visible campaigns. The size and wealth of the business community supporting their campaigns largely remain unmatched. By the time they are elected, most New York governors are well known to the electorate. This makes it hard to override a gubernatorial veto that has the support of the governor. This is due to party discipline and in cases where the governors’ party has more than a third majority in the house legislature. (Schneier 155)
The New York legislature is the legislative branch of the state of New York. The legislature is bicameral, consisting of two houses: the state assembly and the state senate. The assembly is the lower house of the legislature and consists of one-hundred and fifty members each chosen from a single-member district. The upper house includes a varying number of members. Basically, the work of the legislature is to make laws and to amend the constitution for the New York State. (Colby 172)
To understand the legislative power, it is important to note that the New York legislature is the most powerful in the country. This is due to a combination of mutually related factors that grant the speaker and the senate majority leader great power. Under the rules, formal power is vested in the speaker of the assembly of his house and the senate majority leader in his, to control the flow of legislation and the careers of individual members. For example, New York’s leaders have the formal authority to appoint all other legislative party leaders and committee chairmen and to make all committee assignments. Likewise, the majority party leader has the power to appoint all staff personnel including staff hired by all individual members. (Colby 173)
The leaders also control the flow of legislation through their respective chairmanship of the rule’s committees in each house. Any bill therefore opposed by the majority leader dies in the committee stage. In essence, this is a committee that the majority leader totally controls and one that rarely meets. The majority leader has also added power to remove a bill from the calendar of the house or to star it. (Schneier 156)
The legislature is empowered to make laws but is subject to the governor’s power to veto a bill. However, the veto may be overridden by the legislature if there is a two-thirds majority in favor of overriding it in each house. It also has the power to propose New York Constitution amendments by a majority vote, and then another majority vote following an election. If so proposed, the amendment becomes valid if agreed to by the voters at a referendum. As with the presidency, the powers of the governor are checked by the legislature in different ways. First, the legislature has the ability to override vetoes by a two-thirds majority vote. It also approves all major appointments. Moreover, it is empowered to re-organize the executive branch but more significantly controls the governor through its function of making laws. (Zimmerman 138)
More often, however, it is almost impractical to check the powers of the governor through the methods stated above. One silent rule is that the governor has the final say on all important appointments provided that he appoints someone who is competent and honest. Getting two-thirds majority against the governor may be difficult since he enjoys at least a third majority in the house from his party. In addition, the governor’s clout and political machinery enable him to build a strong network from all centers of power. (Dye 126)
The good thing is that important issues in New York State are of prime importance to both the legislature and the governor. It is important to note that as much as a governor who enjoys a majority party support may be more successful than one who faces an opposing house, a governor facing an opposing house may be much or less powerful since he may tend to support popular bills that will most likely sail in the house. If the governor is indeed behaving tactically in his selection of legislative policy agenda items, then one way to do so is to emphasize items in policy areas that engender less partisan conflict. Policy initiatives that emphasize infrastructure, growth, or economic development, for instance, are likely to receive fairly broad bipartisan support particularly relative to issues that face fairly significant partisan divides, such as many public programs pertaining to public assistance or civil rights. (Dye 127)
As can be seen, due to the weight of importance given to the politics of New York State, its politics are more like national politics than just state politics. They mirror the federal government from the expensive campaigns, considerable media attention, and extensive powers of the governor to the very broad electorate. Studying New York State politics nevertheless shows the balance of power in various states in the country in addition to the federal government itself. This includes a system of checks and balances that is played by the two arms of the state government namely; the governor and the legislature. The fact that both the legislature and the governor are answerable to the electorate tends to make them cooperate on important issues.
Colby Peter W, & Kenneth John, W. New York State today: politics, government, public policy. 171-175, New York. Routledge. 1994. Print.
Dye, MacManus. Politics in States and Communities, 122-131. Longman. 2006. Print.
Fording, Richard. Explaining gubernatorial Success in State Legislatures. 7-24, University of Kentucky Department of PoliticalScience1615PattersonOfficeTowerLexington, KY 40506, 2001. Print.
Schneier, Edward, & Murtaugh Brian. New York Politics: A Tale of Two States. 151-159. New York. Routledge. 2001. Print.
Zimmerman Joseph F, The government and politics of New York State. 134-190, New York. Routledge. 2008. Print.