It is generally true that you don’t get into politics for the paychecks. Even though politicians have significant power and clout, as well as the ability to affect the lives of thousands, even millions, of Americans, elected officials make significantly less than most CEOs with that kind of influence.
Annual base salaries of elected officials top out at $400,000 for the U.S. president and can be as little as nothing for a small town council member. Members of the House and Senate earn a base annual salary of $174,000, or about $100,000 more than state lawmakers or the typical county commissioner. There is considerable variation in the salaries of governors too.
To identify America’s highest paid governors, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the most recent governor compensation data in the Book of the States 2021 published by The Council of State Governments.
The base annual salary for state governors ranges from $70,000 in Maine to $225,000 in New York with a median of $147,500. Adjusted for local cost of living, however, some governors fare better than others even if they receive smaller paychecks.
For example, Oklahoma’s Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt earns an annual salary of $147,000, slightly less than the $150,000 earned by Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat. But Oklahoma’s cost of living is nearly 9% lower than the national average, while Connecticut’s is 3.4% above that average, giving Stitt’s salary considerably more purchasing power in his home state.
Five states have costs of living that are between 10% and 12% below the national average: Mississippi, West Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, and Kentucky. Governors in those states earn from $124,563 for Alabama Republican Kay Ivey to $154,115 for Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, also a Republican. (Here are governors and candidates who got behind the stolen election lie.)
At the other end of the spectrum, four states have costs of living that are between 10% and 12% above the national average, with annual gubernatorial salaries ranging from $165,048 for David Ige of Hawaii to $225,000 for New York’s Kathy Hochul. Both are Democrats. (Here are America’s least popular governors.)
Thirty-six gubernatorial seats are up for grabs in the current midterm election cycle that ends on Nov. 8. Currently, Republicans sit in 28 gubernatorial seats, including four of the country’s
10 most-populous states: Texas, Florida, Ohio, and Georgia.
Here’s what America’s governors are paid in every state.
Click here to see our detailed methodology.
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