Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown consistently signs more bills than GOP governors

California Gov. Jerry Brown doesn’t veto too many bills.
California Gov. Jerry Brown doesn’t veto too many bills. The Associated Press

Late Sunday night, Gov. Jerry Brown put another end-of-session bill signing period in the books, the 15th in his record-setting tenure as California governor.

Bottom line: The Democrat axed 12 percent of the bills that made it to his desk this year, slightly less than the 15 percent he vetoed in 2016.

Brown vetoed 118 of the 977 bills by the end of the period. Among those that didn’t make it into law are measures that called for presidential candidates to publicly disclose tax returns, the release of gender-specific pay data by large private employers and for schools to more rigorously address sexual violence and harassment.

His veto record has been pretty consistent since he assumed office – for the second time – in 2011, said Chris Micheli, a Sacramento lobbyist whose clients include the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which was involved in the Legislature’s $52 billion transportation package that Brown signed earlier this year.

Micheli regularly tracks veto records of Brown and past governors to get a sense of their philosophy and legislative priorities.

“You can see he often doesn’t want to take us down a particular path, for example with the (Sen. Mike) McGuire bill calling for President (Donald) Trump to disclose his tax returns,” Micheli said. “You can see that in his veto message, where he basically says as appealing as it may be, where does it end?”

From 2011 to this year, Brown has vetoed 10.7 to 15 percent of the bills with which he’s presented, a much lower rate than past Republican governors, Micheli pointed out. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed 22.3 to 35 percent of bills that made it to his desk when he was in office, Pete Wilson had a 8.6 to 24.5 percent veto rate.

“Republican governors were dealing with Democratic-controlled houses of the Legislature, so naturally they’re going to have more of a difference in opinion,” Micheli said.

Brown in 2012 – his 10th year as California’s leader – broke the career record for most bills signed by a governor. During his first eight-year run, from 1975 to 1983, he vetoed fewer than 5 percent of regular session bills.

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