Lieutenant Governor: The Basics

The lieutenant governor is chosen via statewide election (independently from the governor, unlike the president and vice president, who run on the same ticket) and serves four-year terms with no term limits.  Because the lieutenant governor is first in the line of succession for the governorship, the constitutional qualifications for the lieutenant governor are identical to those for the governor: 30 years of age, U.S. citizen, resident of Texas for 5 years.

The lieutenant governor is unique: while it is technically part of the plural executive, this office’s powers are primarily legislative in nature.  The lieutenant governor presides over the Texas Senate; co-chairs the Legislative Budget Board and appoints senators to the board; and serves on the Legislative Redistricting Board, when applicable.  The lieutenant governor’s compensation is even benchmarked to legislators’ compensation: “while he acts as president of the senate, [the lieutenant governor shall] receive for his services the same compensation and mileage which shall be allowed to the members of the senate, and no more” (Texas Constitution of 1876, Article IV, Section 17).

The lieutenant governor has traditionally been regarded as the most powerful office in Texas state government, in large part because of its role in the legislature.  As Barry McBee mentioned in the video above, however, those dynamics appear to be changing.