Special Report

What America's Governors Are Paid in Every State

usforestservice / Flickr

It is generally true that you don’t get into politics for the paychecks. Even though politicians have significant power and clout, as well as the ability to affect the lives of thousands, even millions, of Americans, elected officials make significantly less than most CEOs with that kind of influence.

Annual base salaries of elected officials top out at $400,000 for the U.S. president and can be as little as nothing for a small town council member. Members of the House and Senate earn a base annual salary of $174,000, or about $100,000 more than state lawmakers or the typical county commissioner. There is considerable variation in the salaries of governors too.

To identify America’s highest paid governors, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the most recent governor compensation data in the Book of the States 2021 published by The Council of State Governments. 

The base annual salary for state governors ranges from $70,000 in Maine to $225,000 in New York with a median of $147,500. Adjusted for local cost of living, however, some governors fare better than others even if they receive smaller paychecks.

For example, Oklahoma’s Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt earns an annual salary of $147,000, slightly less than the $150,000 earned by Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat. But Oklahoma’s cost of living is nearly 9% lower than the national average, while Connecticut’s is 3.4% above that average, giving Stitt’s salary considerably more purchasing power in his home state.

Five states have costs of living that are between 10% and 12% below the national average: Mississippi, West Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, and Kentucky. Governors in those states earn from $124,563 for Alabama Republican Kay Ivey to $154,115 for Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, also a Republican. (Here are governors and candidates who got behind the stolen election lie.)

At the other end of the spectrum, four states have costs of living that are between 10% and 12% above the national average, with annual gubernatorial salaries ranging from $165,048 for David Ige of Hawaii to $225,000 for New York’s Kathy Hochul. Both are Democrats. (Here are America’s least popular governors.)

Thirty-six gubernatorial seats are up for grabs in the current midterm election cycle that ends on Nov. 8. Currently, Republicans sit in 28 gubernatorial seats, including four of the country’s 

10 most-populous states: Texas, Florida, Ohio, and Georgia.

Here’s what America’s governors are paid in every state.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

50. Maine: Janet Mills (D)
> Salary: $70,000
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $3,561 per capita (13th highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 3.2% less expensive than nat’l avg.

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Source: Michael Ciaglo / Getty Images News via Getty Images

49. Colorado: Jared Polis (D)
> Salary: $92,700
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $2,611 per capita (15th lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 2.9% more expensive than nat’l avg.

48. Arizona: Doug Ducey (R)
> Salary: $95,000
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $2,487 per capita (12th lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 0.9% less expensive than nat’l avg.

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images News via Getty Images

47. Oregon: Kate Brown (D)
> Salary: $98,600
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $3,015 per capita (24th lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 2.6% more expensive than nat’l avg.

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45. Nebraska: Pete Ricketts (R)
> Salary: $105,000
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $2,986 per capita (23rd lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 7.1% less expensive than nat’l avg.

45. Wyoming: Mark Gordon (R)
> Salary: $105,000
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $3,405 per capita (17th highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 7.7% less expensive than nat’l avg.

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Source: Sean Rayford / Getty Images

44. South Carolina: Henry McMaster (R)
> Salary: $106,078
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $2,304 per capita (8th lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 8.4% less expensive than nat’l avg.

Source: usforestservice / Flickr

43. New Mexico: Michelle Lujan Grisham (D)
> Salary: $110,000
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $3,377 per capita (18th highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 8.4% less expensive than nat’l avg.

Source: Photo by Mark Reinstein / Corbis via Getty Images

42. Kansas: Laura Kelly (D)
> Salary: $110,707
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $3,288 per capita (21st highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 7.6% less expensive than nat’l avg.

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Source: yellowstonenps / Flickr

41. Montana: Greg Gianforte (R)
> Salary: $118,397
> Present term: Jan 2021 – Jan 2025
> State tax collections (2020): $2,922 per capita (21st lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 7.6% less expensive than nat’l avg.

40. South Dakota: Kristi Noem (R)
> Salary: $118,728
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $2,276 per capita (7th lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 8.5% less expensive than nat’l avg.

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Source: Pool / Getty Images News via Getty Images

39. Mississippi: Tate Reeves (R)
> Salary: $122,160
> Present term: Jan 2020 – Jan 2024
> State tax collections (2020): $2,735 per capita (18th lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 12.2% less expensive than nat’l avg.

38. Alabama: Kay Ivey (R)
> Salary: $124,563
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $2,397 per capita (9th lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 10.7% less expensive than nat’l avg.

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images News via Getty Images

37. Minnesota: Tim Walz (D)
> Salary: $127,629
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $4,695 per capita (5th highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 1.4% less expensive than nat’l avg.

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35. Iowa: Kim Reynolds (R)
> Salary: $130,000
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $3,342 per capita (19th highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 9.0% less expensive than nat’l avg.

Source: Mark Wallheiser / Getty Images News via Getty Images

35. Louisiana: John Bel Edwards (D)
> Salary: $130,000
> Present term: Jan 2020 – Jan 2024
> State tax collections (2020): $2,443 per capita (11th lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 7.3% less expensive than nat’l avg.

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Source: Michael B. Thomas / Getty Images News via Getty Images

34. Missouri: Mike Parson (R)
> Salary: $133,821
> Present term: Jan 2021 – Jan 2025
> State tax collections (2020): $2,016 per capita (3rd lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 7.5% less expensive than nat’l avg.

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images News via Getty Images

33. Indiana: Eric Holcomb (R)
> Salary: $134,051
> Present term: Jan 2021 – Jan 2025
> State tax collections (2020): $3,297 per capita (20th highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 7.5% less expensive than nat’l avg.

Source: Joe Raedle / Getty Images News via Getty Images

32. Florida: Ron Desantis (R)
> Salary: $134,181
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $2,002 per capita (2nd lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 0.7% more expensive than nat’l avg.

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31. Idaho: Brad Little (R)
> Salary: $138,302
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $2,872 per capita (20th lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 8.8% less expensive than nat’l avg.

Source: Stephen Yang / Getty Images News via Getty Images

30. North Dakota: Doug Burgum (R)
> Salary: $138,748
> Present term: Dec 2020 – Dec 2024
> State tax collections (2020): $5,566 per capita (the highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 8.0% less expensive than nat’l avg.

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Source: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

29. New Hampshire: Chris Sununu (R)
> Salary: $143,704
> Present term: Jan 2021 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $2,075 per capita (4th lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 3.7% more expensive than nat’l avg.

28. Alaska: Mike Dunleavy (R)
> Salary: $145,000
> Present term: Dec 2018 – Dec 2022
> State tax collections (2020): $1,797 per capita (the lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 3.2% more expensive than nat’l avg.

Source: Public Domain / White House / Wikimedia Commons

27. Rhode Island: Dan McKee (D)
> Salary: $145,755
> Present term: Mar 2021 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $3,214 per capita (23rd highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 1.8% more expensive than nat’l avg.

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Source: whitehouse45 / Flickr

26. Oklahoma: Kevin Stitt (R)
> Salary: $147,000
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $2,590 per capita (13th lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 8.7% less expensive than nat’l avg.

Source: Bonnie Biess / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

24. Connecticut: Ned Lamont (D)
> Salary: $150,000
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $5,103 per capita (4th highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 3.4% more expensive than nat’l avg.

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Source: Justin Merriman / Getty Images News via Getty Images

24. West Virginia: Jim Justice (R)
> Salary: $150,000
> Present term: Jan 2021 – Jan 2025
> State tax collections (2020): $3,049 per capita (25th highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 12.0% less expensive than nat’l avg.

Source: Jon Cherry / Getty Images News via Getty Images

23. Kentucky: Andy Beshear (D)
> Salary: $152,181
> Present term: Dec 2019 – Dec 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $2,967 per capita (22nd lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 10.2% less expensive than nat’l avg.

Source: Pool / Getty Images News via Getty Images

22. Wisconsin: Tony Evers (D)
> Salary: $152,756
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $3,413 per capita (15th highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 6.8% less expensive than nat’l avg.

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21. Texas: Greg Abbott (R)
> Salary: $153,750
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $2,093 per capita (5th lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 0.5% less expensive than nat’l avg.

Source: Matt Sullivan / Getty Images

20. Arkansas: Asa Hutchinson (R)
> Salary: $154,115
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $3,405 per capita (16th highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 10.8% less expensive than nat’l avg.

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Source: Sara D. Davis / Getty Images News via Getty Images

19. North Carolina: Roy Cooper (D)
> Salary: $154,743
> Present term: Jan 2021 – Jan 2025
> State tax collections (2020): $2,711 per capita (17th lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 8.2% less expensive than nat’l avg.

Source: Bill Pugliano / Getty Images News via Getty Images

18. Michigan: Gretchen Whitmer (D)
> Salary: $159,300
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $2,785 per capita (19th lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 6.0% less expensive than nat’l avg.

Source: Ethan Miller / Getty Images News via Getty Images

17. Nevada: Steve Sisolak (D)
> Salary: $163,474
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $3,045 per capita (25th lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 2.9% less expensive than nat’l avg.

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Source: Justin Merriman / Getty Images News via Getty Images

16. Ohio: Mike DeWine (R)
> Salary: $164,590
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $2,592 per capita (14th lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 8.3% less expensive than nat’l avg.

Source: Mario Tama / Getty Images News via Getty Images

15. Hawaii: David Ige (D)
> Salary: $165,048
> Present term: Dec 2018 – Dec 2022
> State tax collections (2020): $5,296 per capita (3rd highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 12.0% more expensive than nat’l avg.

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Source: usdagov / Flickr

14. Utah: Spencer Cox (R)
> Salary: $165,600
> Present term: Jan 2021 – Jan 2025
> State tax collections (2020): $2,669 per capita (16th lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 4.7% less expensive than nat’l avg.

Source: Mark Makela / Getty Images News via Getty Images

13. Delaware: John Carney (D)
> Salary: $171,000
> Present term: Jan 2021 – Jan 2025
> State tax collections (2020): $4,602 per capita (6th highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 2.1% less expensive than nat’l avg.

10. Georgia: Brian Kemp (R)
> Salary: $175,000
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $2,218 per capita (6th lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 5.5% less expensive than nat’l avg.

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Source: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / Getty Images News via Getty Images

10. New Jersey: Phil Murphy (D)
> Salary: $175,000
> Present term: Jan 2022 – Jan 2026
> State tax collections (2020): $4,083 per capita (10th highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 11.2% more expensive than nat’l avg.

Source: Win McNamee / Getty Images News via Getty Images

10. Virginia: Glenn Youngkin (R)
> Salary: $175,000
> Present term: Jan 2022 – Jan 2026
> State tax collections (2020): $3,251 per capita (22nd highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 1.0% more expensive than nat’l avg.

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Source: Scott Eisen / Getty Images News via Getty Images

9. Maryland: Larry Hogan (R)
> Salary: $180,000
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $3,866 per capita (11th highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 6.5% more expensive than nat’l avg.

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images News via Getty Images

8. Illinois: JB Pritzker (D)
> Salary: $181,670
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $3,534 per capita (14th highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 0.5% more expensive than nat’l avg.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

7. Vermont: Phil Scott (R)
> Salary: $184,100
> Present term: Jan 2021 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $5,318 per capita (2nd highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 0.7% less expensive than nat’l avg.

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Source: Isaac Brekken / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

6. Massachusetts: Charlie Baker (R)
> Salary: $185,000
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $4,499 per capita (8th highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 7.4% more expensive than nat’l avg.

Source: David Ryder / Getty Images News via Getty Images

5. Washington: Jay Inslee (D)
> Salary: $187,353
> Present term: Jan 2021 – Jan 2025
> State tax collections (2020): $3,766 per capita (12th highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 7.4% more expensive than nat’l avg.

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Source: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

4. Tennessee: Bill Lee (R)
> Salary: $198,780
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $2,427 per capita (10th lowest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 7.8% less expensive than nat’l avg.

Source: Mark Makela / Getty Images News via Getty Images

3. Pennsylvania: Tom Wolf (D)
> Salary: $201,729
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $3,129 per capita (24th highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 2.4% less expensive than nat’l avg.

2. California: Gavin Newsom (D)
> Salary: $209,747
> Present term: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $4,349 per capita (9th highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 10.4% more expensive than nat’l avg.

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Source: Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images News via Getty Images

1. New York: Kathy Hochul (D)
> Salary: $225,000
> Present term: Aug 2021 – Jan 2023
> State tax collections (2020): $4,590 per capita (7th highest)
> Statewide cost of living (2020): 10.2% more expensive than nat’l avg.

Methodology

To identify America’s highest paid governors, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the most recent governor compensation data in the Book of the States 2021, in the chapter on the state executive branch, originally published by The Council of State Governments. Each governor’s present term in office and party affiliation are also from the CSG.

State tax collections per capita for fiscal year 2022 are from tax policy advocacy group Tax Foundation’s Facts and Figures 2022. Regional price parity figures — a cost of living measure — by state for 2020 are from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. 

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