Get the message : how the Department of Finance sets California’s legislative agenda

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2020-06-22

Authors

Flatt, Henry Joel

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Abstract

Theories of information processing note that professional staff and bureaucratic agents play an essential role in the collection, interpretation, and analysis of information required to implement policy. Identifying which agencies are tasked with the aggregation and analysis of information allows us to better understand policy dynamics. While previous theories of bureaucratic responsiveness and analytical capacity have almost exclusively examined the U.S. Congress and related federal agencies, this paper documents how a state agency—California’s Department of Finance (DOF)—sets the legislative agenda by both processing information and communicating the Governor’s policy preferences. Using data culled from the state legislative archive, I demonstrate how the DOF’s recommendation regarding a given bill significantly impacts its likelihood of passage. The data examined span the six most recently completed legislative sessions (N ~26,000) and over 7,700 fiscal summaries produced by the DOF.

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