California lawmakers pick longtime financial markets expert as their top fiscal analyst

State Capitol Building in Sacramento.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

California lawmakers chose a veteran researcher of the state’s fiscal health and economy on Wednesday to lead their independent research office, only the sixth leader of the nonpartisan unit since its creation in 1941.

Gabriel Petek, managing director of Standard & Poor’s in San Francisco, will assume the job of state legislative analyst next month. He succeeds Mac Taylor, a four-decade veteran of the office who served in the post for a decade before retiring last month.

Petek, 47, is well versed in California fiscal policy but a newcomer to state government. Prior to his role as an analyst overseeing S&P’s work on California and Illinois government, he was a budget analyst for the city of Boston. He had a hand in assessing California’s creditworthiness in recent years, overseeing reports that assessed the strengths and weaknesses of state government.


“Ultimately, we chose Gabriel Petek because we believe that he has both a deep understanding of the state’s budget and fiscal situation, and the ability to assist us in making economic and policy decisions that will best serve the people of California,” state Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), chair of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, said in a statement.

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The Legislative Analyst’s Office has a broad mandate to advise lawmakers on budget and policy matters such as education and healthcare. It also prepares an independent fiscal analysis of every proposed statewide ballot measure. Petek will lead a staff of almost 60 researchers. Last week, the office released its first review of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new budget proposal, largely agreeing with the projection of a record tax revenue windfall.

Petek was selected by unanimous vote of the bipartisan budget panel, which includes lawmakers from the state Senate and Assembly.

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