22. Gabriel Petek
Legislative Analyst Gabriel Petek skeptically eyeballs the Newsom administration’s fiscal policies, and that’s a good thing. Because he answers to the Legislature, not the governor, he’s not shy about poking around. That’s exactly what you want when you have a $38 billion surplus going into the new fiscal year. State government doesn’t employ journalists to ply their trade, but Petek’s staff of more than 50 in the Legislative Analyst’s Office comes the closest. They pore over every aspect of state spending, revenue, taxes and programs. They make economic projections. They analyze the financial impact of ballot initiatives. Remarkably, in the era of hyperpartisan politics, they receive approbation from Republicans as well as Democrats, and both rely on the LAO for solid data. The LAO has been around since 1941 but, amazingly, the office has had only six chiefs, including Petek. 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. 25, 2021.