The title governor refers to the chief executive of each state, not directly subordinate to the federal authorities, but the political and ceremonial head of the state.
The United States Constitution preserves the notion that the country is a federation of sovereign states and that powers not specifically granted to the federal government are retained by the states. States, therefore, are not merely provinces or subdivisions of federal administration. State governments in the U.S. are therefore relatively powerful; each state has its own independent criminal and civil law codes, and each state manages its internal government.
The governor thus heads the executive branch in each state and, depending on the state, may have considerable control over government budgeting, the power of appointment of many officials (including many judges), and a considerable role in legislation. The governor may also have additional roles, such as that of Commander-in-Chief of the state's National Guard (when not federalized), and in many states the governor has partial or absolute power to commute or pardon a criminal sentence. U.S. governors serve four-year terms except those in New Hampshire and Vermont, who serve two-year terms.
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