The Governor of Connecticut is elected every four years, with no limit on the number of terms they may serve. During the general election gubernatorial candidates campaign with and are elected alongside their Lt. Governor. However, during the primaries candidates for the two positions are nominated separately. This leaves open the possibility that the two candidates are not both the party-endorsed candidates. Gubernatorial candidates are eligible for the state’s Citizens’ Election Program, and qualifying candidates may receive up to $1.25 million during the primary and up to $6 million during the general election. Connecticut elects its Governors during midterm elections, so there is not a gubernatorial election during presidential cycles.
Once elected, Connecticut’s Governor serves as the head of the state’s executive branch, and the commander in chief of the state’s military forces. S/he serves in a similar capacity to most gubernatorial offices in the United States. The Governor of Connecticut has veto power over acts and resolutions by the legislature, which can be overturned by a two-thirds vote in both chambers. The Governor is also tasked with appointing the commissioners of state agencies, as well as some ancillary positions within state agencies. Although the governor does not explicitly appoint deputy commissioners, in practice, he has control over these appointments.The Governor also has the authority to nominate judges. Gubernatorial nominations to state agencies are approved by the Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee, and judicial nominations by the Governor require the consent of the Judiciary Committee. Gubernatorial appointments are approved by the legislature, by a chamber of the Governor’s choice. As the head of the executive branch, all agencies fall under the Governor’s authority and must comply with his directives. Furthermore, the Governor also serves as chair of the state’s Bonding Commission, as well as an ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Connecticut and Yale. The Governor also has the ability to introduce legislation at the beginning of the session, through what are known as “Governor’s Bills.” Most of these bills work to implement the state budget among agencies, but they can also shape a lot of policy.
The drafting of the state budget and state budget revisions begin with the Governor’s budget recommendations. The executive branch begins its budgetary process the August prior to the convening of a long-session, when the Budget and Financial Management Division of the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) develops forms and instructions for state agencies to submit their budget requests. Agencies report back to OPM in September-October. When there is a newly elected Governor, which we will see in November, the Secretary of OPM will send the Department’s tentative recommendations to the Governor-elect by November 15th for review. The Governor-elect may hold budget hearings with such agencies as desired, or at the request of any agency. Final policy decisions are then incorporated in the recommended budget (December-January). The Governor transmits the budget document for the next biennium to the legislature by the first session day following the third of February in each odd numbered year. In even numbered years, the Governor will transmit a report on the status of the budget enacted, along with any recommendations for revisions and adjustments if needed. The Governor typically presents his budget to the legislature during his State of the State speech before a joint session of both chambers. In the case of a deficit, the Governor is statutorily obligated to present the legislature with a deficit mitigation plan within 30 days of the certification of a deficit greater than one percent of general fund expenditures.
As the November general elections near, it’s important to consider these gubernatorial authorities and how they could be impacted by changes in the legislature. As you can see, the Governor has a lot of explicit authority, but they must also deal with a considerable amount of oversight from the legislature. A Governor has the ability to implement a policy agenda through state agency nominations, vetoes, and by introducing legislation at the beginning of the session. However, the legislature always has the opportunity to override a governor’s veto, vote down his budget and policy proposals, and to veto a nomination (though rarely exercised).
Fun Fact: Unusual among most U.S. governors, the Governor of Connecticut has no authority to grant pardons.