By Alex Fitzsimmons
Professor Alan Rosenthal on Tuesday offered legislators attending the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) 2012 Legislative Summit in Chicago a simple message: strength through collaboration. Rosenthal, a professor at the Rutgers University School of Planning and Public Policy, said “regular consultation” with governors is the best way for legislators to enhance their influence.
“Governors do listen,” explained Rosenthal, citing a survey he conducted that found that more than 70 percent of governors said they consult with legislative leaders “all of the time” or “often” when formulating their agenda. He advised legislators to consult with their governor early before “lines get drawn in the sand.”
Rosenthal, whose new book, “The Best Job in Politics,” examines why governors are so successful at achieving their goals, said legislative influence and gubernatorial success are not mutually exclusive, but actually go hand in hand. That’s why the most influential legislators tend to work with, not against, their governor, even if they come from different parties. “Governors recognize that they can get more through collaboration,” he said.
While most governors are willing to work with legislators, Rosenthal said governors who have legislative experience tend to be the most collaborative. “It’s better to have a former legislator as a governor than anyone else, generally speaking,” claimed Rosenthal, as these governors usually have a better understanding of the legislative process.
Even though legislators have the tools to expand their influence over policymaking, Rosenthal said the scales would always be tipped slightly against the legislative branch.
“It may not be an equal balance, but I’d say it’s a good deal,” he said.
Photo: Office of the Governor, State of New Jersey