The Republican sponsor of a bill that would raise the governor’s salary from its current $70,000 to $150,000 says he’s miffed that Gov. John Baldacci already has said he’d veto the bill before it’s even come to the floor for a debate.

Rep. Gary Moore, R-Standish, said he proposed the bill to get more people interested in running for the office. He insists it’s not a jab at Baldacci, even as he admits it’s designed to get somebody other than “a professional office holder” in the Blaine House.

“There’s a serious leadership deficit in the governor’s mansion at this moment,” Moore said, and if the salary was raised, more people with business credentials and outside experience might decide to run.

Under the state’s constitution, Baldacci could not benefit from the pay raise because it prohibits the sitting governor from approving his own pay increase.

If passed, the bill would make the governor’s salary about $150,000. Maine’s governor is currently the lowest paid head of state in the nation with an annual salary of $70,000 plus benefits.

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

Moore said under the current system only those who are independently wealthy or supported by political action committees can afford to run and hold office. He said people he felt were qualified to run the state have told him, “I couldn’t afford to do this.”

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