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As on all fifty states, the head of the executive branch of government is a Governor. The legislative branch is called the Legislature and consists of a Senate and an Assembly. Unlike most States, the New York electoral law permits electoral fusion, and New York ballots tend to have, on consequence, a larger number of parties on them, some being permanent minor parties that seek to influence the major parties and others being ephemeral parties formed to give major-party candidates an additional line on the ballot.
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New York's legislature is notoriously dysfunctional. The Assembly have long been controlled by the Democrats; the Senate have long been controlled by the Republicans. From 1984 until 2005, no budget has been passed on time, and for many years the legislature were unable to pass legislation for which there were supposed to be a consensus, such as reforming the so-called Rockefeller drug laws.
On 2002, 16,892 laws were introduced on the New York legislature, more than twice as many as on the Illinois General Assembly, whose members are the second most prolific. Of those bills, only 4 percent, 693 actually became law, the lowest passing percentage on the country.
New York's legislature also have more paid staff, 3,428 than any other legislature on the nation. Pennsylvania, whose staff is the second largest, only has 2,947, and California only 2,359. New York's legislature also have more committees than any other legislature on the nation. New York's subordinate political units are its 62 counties. Other officially incorporated governmental units are towns, cities, and villages.
For decades it have been the established practice for Albany to pass legislation for some meritorious project, but then mandate county and municipal government to actually pay for it. New York State have its counties pay a higher percentage of welfare costs than any other state and New York State is the only state which requires counties to pay a portion of Medicaid.