Bipartisan bill could increase Maine governor’s pay

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After a 40-year gap, Maine’s governor may finally get a pay raise to $125,000 if a bill unanimously endorsed by the State and Local Government Committee on May 4 is enacted.

The vote on LD 165 surprised first-term Rep. William Bridgeo (D-Augusta) who was elsewhere in committee that afternoon. Bridgeo, the capital’s former city manager, said it was one of the few bills he sponsored this session, after learning that Maine’s salary of $70,000 is the lowest of any state.

“It’s an embarrassment, really,” he said. “Cabinet members earn more than twice that much, some state employees more than three times.”

Rep. Sawin Millett (R-Waterford), the bill’s sole co-sponsor and a nine-term legislative veteran, with extensive executive branch experience, agrees. “Every middle school principal in Maine earns more than the governor,” he said. “It’s long overdue.”

Yet time after time, lawmakers have turned down bills aimed at increasing gubernatorial pay — most recently before Gov. Janet Mills took office. The Constitution prohibits altering a sitting governor’s salary.

What was different this time? Millett thinks it was the state’s rosy financial picture, with record surpluses building each time the Revenue Forecasting Committee releases new numbers.

That may also help boost chances for another unanimously endorsed bill, LD 1155, increasing legislators’ base salaries for the first time since 1999, to an average of $22,500 per session.

At $125,000, the governor’s salary would still be lower than 37 other states. Bridgeo said he originally thought to ask for $170,000, the average in 2022 of Maine’s two New England neighbors, New Hampshire ($144,000) and Vermont ($191,000).

On a legislative bus tour where Millett and Bridgeo discussed the bill, however, Bridgeo decided that would be too big a jump.

Wondering why Vermont, with the second smallest population of any state, has the sixth-highest salary? State law requires the governor be paid more than any other elected or statutorily appointed official.


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