21. Gabriel Petek
It’s hard to overstate the importance of Gabriel Petek, California’s Legislative Analyst, the nonpartisan fiscal adviser to the Legislature, filling an office that’s been around since 1941. First, lawmakers of both parties rely on the LAO for guidance on all things financial. Second, the LAO’s website is transparent, well-organized and detailed, giving the wider public an opportunity to follow the money in government. The LAO also analyzes the financial impact of ballot initiatives, makes sound economic projections, zeroes in on specific programs and – amazingly for many government offices – its team of analysts often respond helpfully (!) to public inquiries. Petek was hired by the Legislature, not the governor, so he’s happy to poke into the administration’s budgeting, an especially useful trait when you’ve got a $100 billion surplus. 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, where one of his chores was to analyze California.
Updated Aug. 9, 2022.