Virginia’s governor collects $175,000 a year for his work, while his counterpart in Maine makes less than half of that. Florida’s top executive doesn’t even collect his pay.
The average annual salary for U.S. governors this year is $133,348, according to a survey by The Council of State Governments, with pay ranging from $70,000 a year for Maine’s governor to $187,256 for Pennsylvania’s chief.
Virginia and New Jersey are tied for fifth in the country in the salaries paid their governors, according to the council.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has refused some cost-of-living adjustments, which brings his actual pay closer to $175,000, according to the council’s analysis. Second behind Corbett’s set salary is New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, at $179,000 per year, who reduced his pay by 5 percent.
Virginia’s gubernatorial paycheck has been $175,000 since 2006 and will likely stay the same through 2018. The amount can’t change during a sitting governor’s term and the General Assembly has already set the salary at $175,000 in the budget stretching into 2014 — the year the next governor will take office.
Gov. Bob McDonnell’s salary took a temporary cut when he took office in January 2010. He and his Cabinet secretaries took a 5 percent voluntary pay cut.
“These voluntary reductions in pay were part of the governor’s commitment to establishing a culture of fiscal restraint throughout state government,” said McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin.
Later that year, after the state registered a revenue surplus in July 2010, McDonnell reinstated the salaries to their full amount. Martin said the cuts saved the state $50,144.
Nationally, the average salary for governors dropped slightly in 2010 to $130,595 — the only time in the past decade that the average annual salary decreased. The council’s analysis attributes the dip “in large part” to an 18 percent drop in the California governor’s salary.
Other governors have taken different approaches to collecting pay, as well. Kentucky’s governor took a 10 percent cut on his salary, Michigan’s governor takes only $1 of his salary and Alabama’s governor is forgoing the $119,950 salary until the state’s unemployment rate drops, according to the council.
Before 2006, Virginia’s governor made nearly $125,000.
More than four decades earlier, in 1959, the state’s top executive was paid $20,000, according to council records. At that time, the state’s population was about half of what it is today.
In today’s dollars that would be about $160,000.