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Executive Branch » Introduction

Kansas state government is modeled on the federal system, with three branches of government—executive, legislative and judicial. In many ways, the Kansas Constitution was patterned on the style and form of the United States Constitution to establish the three branches of government within this state. However, one of the most significant differences between the United States Constitution and its counterpart in Kansas is the makeup of the executive branch of government.

Typically, the executive branch is understood to be the office of the chief executive – in this case the governor – and no one else. However, the authors of the Kansas Constitution designed the executive branch as the “executive department” and included not only the governor and lieutenant governor, but also the secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, attorney general and superintendent of public instruction. Later amendments to the Kansas Constitution and state statutes abolished the offices of the auditor and superintendent of public instruction, and changed the position of treasurer from a constitutional office to a statutorial one. Although the offices of secretary of state and attorney general are still included in the state constitution, supreme authority of the executive department lays with the governor.

The Kansas Constitution outlines the duties of the three branches of state government through checks and balances to ensure one branch does not overstep its authority. The executive branch manages the day-to-day administrative duties of running state government by executing its laws, the legislative branch creates the laws that govern the citizens of Kansas, and the judicial branch interprets and applies the laws passed by the Kansas Legislature. The executive branch’s duties are balanced by the judicial and legislative branches.

This chapter presents the duties, term, qualifications and divisions of each executive office.