What Are Some Facts About the California Government?

The government of California, established by the California Constitution, has three branches: legislative, executive and judicial. It is a direct democracy, and the counties, cities, school districts and special districts administer California's local governments.

The California government's executive branch is overseen by the Office of the Governor and includes elected officials and administrators. The California Legislature's two branches, the State Assembly and the Senate, vote on state laws and draft legislation for referendum. California's judicial branch includes the California Supreme Court and all the lower courts in the state, and it interprets and applies laws at state and local levels. The Judiciary of California consists of the Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal and Superior Courts.

The Constitution of the State of California originated in 1849, prior to California becoming a state in 1850. The current California Constitution, ratified in 1879, is based on the original 1849 constitution, which supersedes it. Both documents delineate the duties, powers, structure and function of California's government.

California's local government is administered by its 58 counties, 485 cities, 1,102 school districts and more than 3,400 special districts. Special districts exist separately from state, county and local governments, and they administer public programs and services such as regional utility authorities, conservation districts and port authorities. Special districts are subject to state law.