The Highest Paid U.S. Governors

4 min read · 6 years ago


Associated Press

U.S. governors make nearly five times as much as the average American adult. The median net compensation in the U.S. is $28,031, while the annual median compensation of a U.S. governor is over $135,000. That figure doesn’t even include the top-notch perks that come with the job, like an official residence provided by the state and free transportation.

Even among governors, there’s substantial variation in annual salary. While many governors are bringing home six figures, others receive significantly less pay. The governor of Maine, for example, makes $70,000 per year, less than half the salary of many other governors. Because the governor’s salary is typically determined by the state’s constitution, there is no federal standard for how much governors get paid.

With that in mind, InsideGov ranked the 21 highest paid governors of 2014, using the most recent data from the Council of State Governments. Here are the governors with the largest salaries:

*Note: this list is based on the 2014 salaries of U.S. governors. Tom Corbett, Pat Quinn, Deval Patrick, Rick Perry, Martin O’Malley and Sean Parnell stepped down as governor in 2015.

Scott Walker

Salary: $144,423

If things go well for Walker in the presidential election, he’ll be receiving a significant pay raise in 2016. Until then, the Wisconsin governor will have to settle for his current salary.

Sean Parnell

Salary: $145,000

Parnell approved a minimum wage increase from $7.75 to $8.85 in 2015 to combat poverty in Alaska. He narrowly lost re-election in 2014.

Peter Shumlin

Salary: $145,538

Shumlin’s annual salary is 7.1% higher than average for all U.S. governors, but is still 3% lower than average for governors from the East.

Mary Fallin

Salary: $147,000

There are currently only six female governors in the U.S. Mary Fallin is the first female governor of Oklahoma, and the only woman to make this list.

John Kasich

Salary: $148,886

The governor of Ohio is eyeing the White House for 2016. He has the advantage of governing one of the most important swing states.

Brian Sandoval

Salary: $149,573

Sandoval’s official salary is 36% higher than the average for governors from the West. Conversely, Nevada is in the bottom 50% of U.S states when it comes to median household income.

Martin O’Malley

Salary: $150,000

O’Malley made one of highest salaries for a governor in 2014. Due to term limits, O’Malley did not seek re-election and is currently running for president.

Rick Perry

Salary: $150,000

Texas is one of four states to pay its governor a $150,000 salary. Like O’Malley, Governor Perry stepped down in 2015, and is running for U.S. president.

Earl Tomblin

Salary: $150,000

West Virginia may pay its governor fairly well, but the state is one of the poorest in the country, with an average per capita income below $23,000 in 2013.

Dan Malloy

Salary: $150,000

The governor of Connecticut joins the $150K club, making 10% more than the average governor.

Deval Patrick

Salary: $151,800

Patrick’s 2014 salary was roughly on par with governors from Eastern states, but 12% greater than the national average for governors. He stepped down as governor in 2015.

Rick Snyder

Salary: $159,300

Rick Snyder returned all but $1 of his governor’s salary to the State of Michigan. He had previously amassed a fortune as an executive and venture capitalist for Gateway.

Jay Inslee

Salary: $166,891

Governor Inslee’s salary is 23% higher than average for all governors, and 52% higher than average for governors from the West.

Jack Markell

Salary: $171,000

Delaware might be one of the smallest states, but it pays one of the highest salaries to its governor.

Jerry Brown

Salary: $173,987

Jerry Brown took a 28-year gap between his second and third terms as California governor. Starting in December, Brown and other California state legislators will receive a 3% pay raise.

Chris Christie

Salary: $175,000

The New Jersey governor may have seen his presidential dreams crushed after the Bridgegate scandal, but for now, Christie can enjoy his relatively high salary as governor.

Terry McAuliffe

Salary: $175,000

The Virginia governor’s salary is nearly 30% higher than the average for all governors. McAuliffe was previously the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Pat Quinn

Salary: $177,412

Interestingly, the average salary for Midwestern governors ($121,679) is roughly $14,000 less than the national average for governors. Illinois is the outlier, with one of the highest governor salaries in 2014.

Andrew Cuomo

Salary: $179,000

Five governors from New York have gone on to become the U.S. president—more than any other state. Receiving a high salary is another norm for New York governors, although Governor Cuomo has reduced his salary by 5% starting in 2011.

Bill Haslam

Salary: $181,980

By state statute, the governor of Tennessee must receive the same salary as the chief justice of the Supreme Court. While Tennessee pays its governor more than any other southern state, it’s still chump change for Governor Haslam, who’s worth $2 billion and returns his salary to the state.

Tom Corbett

Salary: $187,818

The former governor of Pennsylvania takes the top spot with a 2014 salary of $187,818. Corbett’s salary was 38% higher than average for all governors.

However, 1.7% of of Corbett’s salary was repaid as part of a statewide management pay-freeze, lowering the total amount he received.

Compare Every U.S. Governor on InsideGov

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