Lawmakers who serve on the State and Local Government Committee voted Monday to raise the salary of future Maine governors.

In a 7-3 vote, with three members absent, the committee determined that future governors should earn three times the state’s median family income, or about $150,000 a year. With an annual salary that hasn’t been increased since 1987, at $70,000 Maine’s governor is the lowest paid in the country.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Gary Moore (R-Standish), originally proposed that the governor’s salary be 10 percent higher than that of the highest paid state government official. But the bill was reworked in committee to create a relationship between the new salary and the financial success of Maine residents.

“I’m gratified by the strong support of the committee,” Moore said. “I’m happy with the language that links future governors’ salary to the economic well-being of Maine people.”

Even if he wins re-election, Gov. John Baldacci would not benefit from the pay raise because, under the state constitution, a sitting governor cannot authorize his or her own salary increase.

In a press release issued Tuesday, Baldacci once again voiced his opposition to the bill.

“I will veto any pay increase,” he said. “Until teachers’ salaries, healthcare and roadways have been taken care of, the governor will not receive a pay increase.”

Since passage of the bill would require allocation of additional funds, the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee must also consider the bill as they create a budget for 2007. Moore knows passing that committee could be a harder sell.

“Our job is to point out opportunities to fund it,” he said. “We’ll be appearing before the Appropriations Committee. Maybe as commissioners’ positions are vacated they could become consolidated – we must save the money from somewhere else; not raise taxes.”

If the bill becomes law, in future years, salary adjustments would be determined by the cost of living index.

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