The Council of State Governments has been collecting data on governors’ salaries for The Book of the States since 1937. The average governor’s salary grew more slowly during and after the Great Recession, with many states instituting a ban on cost-of-living adjustments; however, as the fiscal health of states has improved, the annual increases normally seen in executive branch pay are returning to a more historically customary level in some states, particularly those that provide cost-of-living adjustments annually.

Governors’ salaries in 2016 range from a low of $70,000 to a high of $190,823 with an average salary of $137,415. Maine Gov. Paul LePage earns the lowest gubernatorial salary at an annual rate of $70,000, followed by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who earns $90,000 per year. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has the highest gubernatorial salary at $190,823, followed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s salary of $187,500 per year, although Haslam returns his salary to the state. Governors in four states—Alabama, Florida, Illinois and Tennessee—do not accept a paycheck or return all or nearly all of their salaries to the state. 

In this presidential election year, many state government chief executives found themselves in the proverbial “hot seat.” Some had to deal with a precipitous drop in state revenues and so broached taboo topics in their state of state speeches, like painful cuts or new taxes. Others deflected criticisms related to religious liberty bills or defended themselves in the face of gross state mismanagement and ineptitude or even moral lapse. In light of a still sluggish economy and the caustic election climate, state chief executives, for the most part, keep their addresses short and focused. On average, governors addressed fewer issues than in the recent past. Also, the average number of topics addressed by at least two-thirds of governors dropped by half to two, from an average of four, evidenced over the last six years—that is, at least 66 percent of governors outlined their education and jobs agendas.1

As states harness technology to modernize their election systems, no area of policymaking has more momentum than voter registration. Online registration, automatic voter registration and Election Day registration are increasingly popular options, with election officials predicting unprecedented levels of eligible voter enrollment and government cost-savings in 2016. Yet as states move away from inefficient paper forms to embrace digital processes, new questions are emerging about verifying, sharing and securing voter registration data. 

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, launched an initiative in 2014 to encourage issuers and underwriters of municipal securities to self-report certain violations of the federal securities laws rather than wait for their violations to be detected. The Municipalities Continuing Disclosure Cooperation, or MCDC, Initiative is intended to address widespread violations of the federal securities laws by municipal issuers and underwriters in connection with certain representations about continuing disclosures in bond offering documents. The SEC began issuing fines and penalties against underwriters in July 2015, and is now turning its attention to issuers.

Several situations in 2015 and 2016 challenged the attorney general’s role as representative of the state in litigation and his or her ability to determine when to seek judicial review, particularly in connection with policy issues that are being hotly debated. Additionally, attorneys general have the vital task of cooperatively enforcing state laws and promoting sound law enforcement policies. To that end, the second half of this article covers police body-worn cameras as part of a national AG initiative on 21st century policing.

Only three governors were elected in 2015. Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi are the only states that hold their gubernatorial elections during the year prior to the presidential election. This means that these three states can be early indicators of any voter unrest that might unleash itself more broadly in the next year’s congressional and presidential elections, and we saw some of this in the two races where candidates were vying for open seats. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) was elected to a second term, running in a state that strongly favored his political party. Both Kentucky and Louisiana have elected Democrats and Republicans to the governorship in recent years, and each race was seen as up for grabs by many political pundits. In the end, each election resulted in the governorship turning over to the other political party.

CSG Midwest
No state has eliminated its lieutenant governorship since Florida in 1885, but Illinois flirted with the idea earlier this year. A proposed constitutional amendment that would have axed the office and handed next-in-line succession to the state’s attorney general cleared the House, but was shunted aside in the Senate.
As HJRCA 5 made its way through the General Assembly, proponents cited the savings as part of their pitch — an estimated $1.6 million a year. The measure won easy passage in the House (95-10), but that question of succession never could get resolved. Some senators, for example, instead preferred a plan that would tap the next constitutional officeholder of the governor’s political party.

Chapter 4 of the 2016 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

The U.S. Economic Development Administration will hold a series of informational webinars for prospective applicants to the agency’s $15 million Regional Innovation Strategies Program competition.

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