The Texas Governor also exercises less influence over the budget process than the U.S. President or many other governors. The legislature takes the lead in the budget process, leaving the Governor with the opportunity to speak publicly of priorities but with little influence on the formal budgeting process. The ten-member Legislative Budget Board (LBB) holds most of the authority. The Lieutenant Governor is the Chair of the LBB, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives is Vice Chair. The Chairs of the House Appropriations Committee, House Committee on Ways and Means, Senate Finance Committee, and Senate State Affairs Committee are also automatically seated on the board. The Lieutenant Governor appoints two additional members of the Senate, and the House Speaker appoints two additional members of the House. The Governor delivers a budget message, but it has no binding authority. It is up to the Governor to persuade legislators to pay attention to his or her agenda.
Law allows the Governor to depart from the budget by transferring money between programs or agencies to meet emergency needs, though such transfers must be approved by the LBB. The LBB can also initiate such transfers, subject to the approval of the Governor. In the event of a shortfall requiring such a transfer, a skillful Governor might be in a position to use of one of the assets of the office, the ability to get the public's attention and lead the agenda of public discussion, perhaps putting the LBB (and political opponents) on the defensive. A Governor with standing in the eyes of the public will be able to call attention to a budgetary need and put the LBB in the position of having to say "no." However, the Governor must be able to convince the public and the key actors in the process that the need is real.
Governors can try to thwart legislative budget priorities after the fact by vetoing legislation at the end of the legislative process. But the veto is a blunt instrument, and some will interpret its extensive use for budgetary reasons as a sign that the Governor is either too weak or lacks the political skill to influence the budget process in more direct and positive ways. Governor Bill Clements's extensive use of the veto in 1979, for example, left him open to criticism that he was a political novice and that, as the first Republican governor since Reconstruction, he was eager to do partisan battles with Democrats dominating state government. Governor Rick Perry's record 82 vetoes of legislation passed during the 2001 session received a barrage of criticism from both parties. Perry, however, successfully characterized the vetoes as controlling government growth during his 2002 reelection campaign. To look at a comprehensive discussion of the veto, browse ahead to section 5.1.