How do State Governors Vary from State to State?

The amount of power a Governor can use varies across the States. There are generally four categories used to describe their power.


How important each of these things can also be seen differently which is why it is hard to answer that question.


I will break down the four parts below and then you can research the governor for your state to see what he is allowed to do (or not).


Tenure: What you have to be and how long you can have it.


Minimum age requirement ranges from no formal provision (though must be an “adult”) to must be at least 35 years old.


U.S. citizenship requirement ranges from no formal provision to being in the United States as a citizen for 20 years.

State residency requirements range from no formal provision to living in the state for at least 7 years.


Term limits can be either lifetime or consecutive, and may be based on years or terms served.


In 28 states once a governor has served the maximum number of years or terms, he or she must leave the governor's office.


In most states, after a period of time out of office, usually four years, the person is allowed to run for governor again.


In eight states, the term limit for the governor is a “lifetime limit” (meaning none).


Veto: power to prevent or delay the enactment of legislation.


All 50 state governors have the power to veto whole legislative measures.


Meaning if a bill passes through the entire legislative process and comes before the governor, he has the power to cancel the bill completely.


Legislatures may override vetoes, usually by a supermajority (two-thirds) vote.


In a large majority of states a bill will become law unless it is vetoed by the governor within a specified number of days, which vary among states.


In a smaller number of states, bills will die (pocket veto) unless they are formally signed by the governor, also within a specified number of days.


Budget: plan for the expenditure of money during a given period.


In all states, the Governors develops and submits annually (or biennially) budgets for review and approval by the legislature.


Upon their changes and approval the Governor can sign into law or veto it.


All but seven US State Governors have “reduction”—sometimes also referred to as budget “line-item”—veto power.


This can be used for the removal of expenses to which they object once the budget comes back to them from the legislature.


Appointment: to select, or assign authority to a position or an office.


Most governors have broad authority to nominate officials to serve in state executive branch positions—many of whom will be included in the governor’s advisory committee, known as the “cabinet.”


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