California state government consists of three branches that coordinate providing essential services to the people through various policies. The government is further divided into smaller units commonly known as local authorities. This paper discusses different aspects of the California government, public policies, the legislature, and local governments.
California government has three branches that include the legislature, the executive, and the state courts. The legislature is not a lifetime career, and every election should bring new faces to the legislature. Even in times when a supermajority occurs, leaders can disagree with ideology because they represent diverse populations (George, 2015). The California executive branch consists of several elected officials. Unlike the federal government where officials are appointed, California elects most of the officials in the executive. They include the governor, the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the secretary of the state, the treasurer, the controller, the insurance commissioner, the and superintendent of public instruction (Matsusaka, 2013).
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Democracy is working in California. The power is vested among the people of California. They have the authority to put to office candidates of their choice as opposed to systems where the governor has to appoint the officers (Matsusaka, 2013). The system allows people to have more control over the government. However, the large number of elected members of the executive can lead to inefficiencies in the government. The checks and balances system allows the governor to veto a bill that is passed by the legislature. Under the system, the legislature can override a veto by a 2/3 majority vote (Ancheta, 2014). The initiative process is the most interesting as it gives power to voters. They put legislation on a statewide ballot for a direct vote of the people. Different propositions are put on the ballot for the electorate to decide (George, 2015). The people have the powers of both the executive and the legislature. The people can change the constitution or enact legislation by a majority vote. Many propositions have been voted by people in California. For instance, the proposition 28 that sets limits on legislation service (Ancheta, 2014). This capability has enabled the people to amend the state constitution for around 500 times (Ancheta, 2014). The power of the people can only be checked by the court system. However, they have an influence on both the executive and the legislation.
Developmental education in California as it is structured now poses the greatest challenge to the community colleges according to PPIC. Students that are not prepared for college are placed in the developmental courses that include English and Maths. Students may take either a set of courses or a single course (Mejia, Rodriguez & Johnson, 2016). Despite the high enrollment, few students earn their degrees or certificates, or progress to the four-year college through transfers. The current trend is worrying given that the state has projected a shortfall of 1.1 million employees with the degree or certificate qualification by 2030 (Mejia, Rodriguez & Johnson, 2016). Studies show that 80% of students at community colleges enroll in one of the developmental courses (Moore & Shulock, 2010). The developmental studies affect the vast majority of students. Out of these students, the majority is from minority groups such as Latino and African Americans. The developmental courses take a long time, a factor that delays the college careers of the involved students. It takes two and a half terms to complete a mathematical developmental course and almost two terms to complete an English course. Moreover, the courses are not applicable to the degree courses. Practitioners and researchers agree that there is a likelihood of attrition if the students start the developmental sequence from low levels. The long-term outcomes show that only 16% of the students that enrolled in developmental courses earn a degree or certificate after six years (Mejia, Rodriguez & Johnson, 2016).
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The state government is concerned about equity issues and poor outcomes of developmental education (Moore & Shulock, 2010). In response to the growing concern, the state legislature has been vocal in improving developmental education. Many community colleges are currently undertaking reforms to ensure the successful completion of the courses. The implementation of the reforms is funded by the state government. However, continued monitoring of the effectiveness of the changes through research is inevitable.
The California legislature is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the state Assembly, and the Senate as the upper house. The state Assembly has 80 elected members while the Senate has 40 members (George, 2015). The members of both state Assembly and the Senate are expected to serve for a maximum of 12 years (George, 2015). Article IV of the Constitution establishes when the Legislature should start and end sessions (Kennedy, 2014). Under the article, Section III gives the governor the power to call for special sessions. The legislature is required by law to adopt a balanced budget from the governor. California legislature can be defined as full-time and has the longest scheduled sessions than any other state in the US (Kennedy, 2014). The legislators are powerful in this state. For instance, they have the power to approve budgets, debate and propose bills for approval by the governor among other functions. Despite the voters having the initiative process, legislators make the first policy guidelines of the propositions. They can make the process simpler or more difficult. The legislators represent a large number of people. The state Assembly member represents 466,000 people while the Senate member represents twice more residents according to the 2010 census (George, 2015).
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The voters feel that the legislators are disengaged from them. It is arguably true because of many underlying factors. For instance, running campaigns is expensive, and most politicians spend time raising funds (Kennedy, 2014). However, studies have shown that the unity of the voters can have an impact on this relationship. Political leaders have to address issues that cause a public outcry. The citizens can organize themselves as lobby groups and voice their concerns which will be dealt with by the politicians quickly.
The cities provide a wide variety of services to the residents. Large cities have police and fire departments and other services such as parks and libraries (Bowman & Kearney, 2015). The cities receive their funding from the local taxes and the remainder from service charges and fees. Some cities contract counties to provide services such as sanitation and policing among others. The cities have powers to implement laws within their areas of jurisdiction that should not contradict the state or the federal laws (Bowman & Kearney, 2015). Counties act as state agents in the provision of social services and health programs. They are the main figures in the provision of countrywide services such as the county sheriff and jail systems, transportation, county hospitals, county libraries among others (Bowman & Kearney, 2015). They also oversee the management of cities that are within their jurisdiction. County governments receive two-thirds of their funding from the interstate transfers. Both the federal and state governments fund counties for different programs. The remaining amount is funded by property sales and other taxes (Sonstelie, 2015). Local governments should seek voters’ approval to increase property taxes.
School districts have varying responsibilities. Some districts handle elementary grades K-6 while others handle kindergarten to the eighth grade. Unified school districts manage K-12 which includes kindergarten and all 12 grades. The school districts have boundaries that are different from the city ones. The difference in boundaries appears because some school districts are older than the towns. The school districts depend on the state funding government which contributes up to 60 percent of the local budget (Sonstelie, 2015). The remaining amount is funded through local taxes, the federal government, and the lottery.
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Water districts manage and protect water resources in California State (Frederick, 2013). The agencies protect, restore and enhance natural and human environments through activities such as recycling and protection of underground water sources among others (Frederick, 2013). The districts are funded through local taxes in the state to conduct their projects. The powers given to the local government are balanced. The authorities share their powers with the people of California who should approve an increase in budget allocation for these agencies.
In conclusion, the structure of the California government shows an example of democracy. Most of the leaders are elected and not appointed. The people have power over various policies that they decide through a voting process. The legislative branch is small but has the necessary authority to perform its functions. Various local authorities function within their boundaries to ensure service provision to the people. The PPIC is a crucial non-partisan body that provides useful research findings that the state can apply to important policy issues