Texas’ constitutional framers had this idea of limiting the power of the governor. They wanted to spread the power to the Legislature as well as the voters by empowering them to amend the Constitution at the ballot box. Thus, the governor’s executive authority was curtailed.
But the governor does have the power of appointment. Rick Perry, a Republican who’s held the governor’s seat longer than any individual in state history, has extended his power through the appointment process.
The Texas Tribune notes in the link attached to this blog post that Perry has appointed seven of the nine members of the Texas Supreme Court, the latest of whom is Jeff Boyd, the governor’s chief of staff. The state Senate will confirm Boyd when it convenes in January and Boyd likely will win election when the time comes.
This is how Texas governors leave their imprint on state government. Perry has been able to select a pro-business panel of jurists to sit on the state’s highest civil appellate court. They’re all conservatives in the Perry mold.
The courts aren’t the only avenue for the governor to make full use of the “limited” power given by the Constitution. He selects members to key commissions dealing with critical issues that include transportation, parks, criminal justice, business regulation, environmental quality and … well, I can’t name them all. But you get the idea.
The state’s framers did institute term limits, but after the Civil War, the Reconstructionists who rewrote the Texas Constitution removed the term limit provision. Thus, the current Constitution misses the mark in in limiting the governor’s power. Used to be the governor was elected to two-year terms, but that changed 40 years ago when the governor’s term was extended to four years.
It’s not that I think necessarily that mandated term limits are a good idea. To my way of thinking, we have term limits already – in the form of elections.
It’s just that this guy, Perry, keeps getting re-elected. And his power keeps growing with every appointment he makes.