Executive-legislative relations: Where you sit really does matter

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Objectives. Do state legislators believe there is a proper balance of power between the governor and the legislature? The research uses both individual and institutional factors to explain the variation in legislators' opinions. Methods. The results of a mail survey sent to all legislators in nine states were used as the basic data source for the study. The dependent variable required the legislators to indicate if a proper balance of power existed. Hierarchical generalized linear modeling (HGLM) was performed. Results. A sizeable majority of legislators (66 percent) thought there was a proper balance of power between the governor and the legislature. HGLM found no discernible role for a number of state-level characteristics. The analysis did uncover a negative relationship between perceived balance of power and whether the governor had previously served in the legislature. Female legislators were more likely to express a lower level of satisfaction with the balance of power than their male counterparts. The partisan relationship between legislators and governors as well as the majority/minority status of the legislators proved to be most important in explaining legislators' perceptions. Conclusions. Contrary to popular opinion, the relationships between the two branches of government are not inherently contentious. Legislators from the governor's party were most likely to assess the relationship as proper.


Balance of power; Executive power; Governors; State legislators


American Politics | Political Theory | Politics and Social Change | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration

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