Survey: Tom Corbett is highest-paid U.S. governor

Gov. Tom Corbett
Gov. Tom Corbett. Credit: Rikard Larma/Metro

Though many states are freezing or cutting governors’ salaries because of economic hardships, Pennsylvania is apparently bucking the trend.

Given the deep funding cuts coming out of Harrisburg, which have led to billion-dollar deficits in the Philadelphia public school and social services systems, it may rankle some residents to learn that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is the highest-earning governor in the country, according to a survey released by the Council of State Governments and published in The Book of the States 2013.

Corbett, who was one of just seven governors who saw his 2013 salary increase over 2012 levels, earns $187,256 a year.

The survey notes Corbett has refused at least three cost-of-living adjustments, which makes his actual pay closer to $175,000.

Even that figure would still rank Corbett toward the top of the highest-earning governors – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo came in second on the list with an annual pay of $179,000 – and means that Corbett makes much more than the average U.S. gubernatorial salary, which in 2013 was $133,348.

“The bottom line of who gets what from state government will always be a factor in determining how states are performing for their citizens,” The Book of the States managing editor Audrey Wall said in a statement.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage earns the least of salaried U.S. governors, with an annual salary of $70,000.

He’s followed by Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, who earns $86,890 per year.

The governor of Florida does not accept a paycheck, while the governor of Tennessee returns his salary to the state, and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder returns all but $1 of his salary to the state.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is not accepting his $119,950 salary until the state unemployment rate drops.

The governors of Kentucky, New York and Vermont have all taken voluntary pay cuts.

The Council of State Government’s fiscal and economic policy analyst Jennifer Burnett said the overall trend of decreasing salaries for U.S. governors “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.”

“It’s also politically tough to raise salaries for those in high-profile public sector positions when private sector wages remain stagnant,” she said.

Apparently not so for Corbett.

The Council of State Governments has been since 1937 collecting data on governor’s salaries.

The first year data was gathered, the average salary for a governor in the 48 states was $7,823 – which would amount to $126,575 in 2013 when adjusted for inflation.


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