Governors' Salaries, 2013

The Council of State Governments has been collecting data on governors’ salaries for The Book of the States since 1937. In recent years, the average governor’s salary has grown more slowly than in the past, with a number of states cutting their chief executive’s pay during and after the Great Recession.

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Governors’ salaries in 2013 range from a low of $70,000 per year to a high of $187,256.

  • The average annual salary for U.S. governors in 2013 is $133,348.
  • Maine Gov. Paul LePage, with an annual salary of $70,000, earns the lowest salary, followed by Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, who earns $86,890 per year. 
  • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania has the highest gubernatorial salary—$187,256—but he has refused at least three cost-of-living adjustments during his tenure, making his actual pay closer to $175,000. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s salary of $179,000 per year ranks second among governors’ salaries.
  • Governors in 21 states earn more than the average salary.
  • Governors in three states—Alabama, Florida and Tennessee—either do not accept a paycheck or they return their salaries to the state, while Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder returns all but $1 of his salary to the state. Several governors have taken voluntary salary reductions in recent years.
Governors’ salaries have been cut in some states and increased in others during and since the recession.
  • Governors in a handful of states—Idaho, Indiana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Tennessee—saw their salaries increase in 2013 over 2012 levels. The average salary increase for these eight governors was $4,115, or 3.2 percent.
  • Only once during the past 10 years has the average annual salary for governors decreased. In 2010, the average salary fell slightly, from $131,115 to $130,595, in large part because the salary for California’s governor was reduced by 18 percent based on recommendations from the state’s Citizens Compensation Commission. Prior to the reduction, the governor’s salary was the highest in the country—$212,179. Florida and Hawaii also cut pay for their top executive branch official in 2010.
  • Although a number of states reduced governors' salaries from 2003 to 2009, those reductions were offset by increases in other states, making the average annual change for governors’ salaries a 2.8 percent increase over this period.
  • Since the 2010 decrease, the average governor’s salary has grown more slowly than in the previous decade, increasing less than 1 percent each year. That is due, in large part, to the widespread salary freezes that halted cost-of-living adjustments for public employees, which have persisted since the recession. 
The average governor’s salary in 2013 is very close to what it was 75 years ago, when adjusted for inflation.
  • The average salary for a governor in the 48 states was $7,823 in 1937. When adjusted for inflation, the average salary for a governor in 1937 becomes $126,575—just 5 percent shy of the average salary in 2013. 
  • In 1937, the governor of New York collected the highest salary, earning $25,000 a year. That $25,000 salary in 2013 dollars would be worth $404,500—more than double what Cuomo earns today.
  • The governor of South Dakota earned the least of any governor in 1937—$3,000—which is equal to $48,540 in today’s dollars, or less than half of Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s current $100,972 salary.

Governors' Salaries, 2013

govsalary.xls182 KB