22. Gabriel Petek
Gabriel Petek is California’s Legislative Analyst, and he’s the Legislature’s nonpartisan money expert – a crucial job indeed amid a $54 billion budget shortage, a recession and an intensifying pandemic. Petek, who is hired by lawmakers and answers to them, and his staff are the go-to source for solid fiscal data on state spending and policy. They eyeball the governor’s budgets and suggest changes. They analyze ballot initiatives. They offer economic projections. They subdivide the sprawling budget into dozens of policy areas, then pick apart each one, everything from high-speed rail to nurse midwives to prison construction to COVID-19. They pick fights, as when Petek said the governor needed to do a better job providing budget information to lawmakers. The Legislative Analyst’s Office has been around for 80 years and has had only six chiefs, including Petek – a remarkable track record of stability. Petek, a product of Loyola Marymount, Harvard and the London School of Economics, served for two decades at Standard & Poor’s, including a stint as a primary analyst for public financing.