Special Report

America’s Highest Paid Governors

This November, in addition to the presidential election, 11 U.S. states as well as two territories will hold elections for governor. Governors are the highest-ranking public official in a state government, effectively serving as chief executives. While the general job description is the same across the 50 states, the details can vary considerably by state. Key differences include state-specific policy priorities and legislative hurdles, populations, and of course, compensation. 

The power wielded by state governors has been evident in 2020, as each state, under the direction of its governor, has adopted its own approach to combating the coronavirus. Some governors have chosen to ignore federal guidelines, while others have responded with even stricter measures.  

Unlike senators, who are also elected on a state-by-state basis, there is no set salary for governors. While senators earn an annual salary of $174,000, governors’ salaries vary by state — from as little as $70,000 to more than $200,000. 

24/7 Wall St. reviewed 2019 salary information from The Council on State Governments, a policy database, to identify how much America’s governors are paid in every state.

Despite their status as the highest-ranking public officials in state governments, governors are usually not the highest paid state employees. Reasons for this vary from state to state. Often, various state departments pay their leadership larger salaries in order to compete with the private sector for top talent. In politically divided states, a pay raise for the governor may lack the necessary legislative support. Also, importantly, governors do not typically run for office for the paycheck.

While there is no hard and fast rule, generally, states that collect more taxes on a per capita basis tend to pay their governors more than states that collect less taxes. Here is a look at how much Americans are paying in taxes on a state-by-state basis.

Click here to see America’s highest paid governors.
Click here to read our detailed methodology.

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