AUGUSTA — After 28 years, it’s time to give the governor a pay raise, a veteran Democratic lawmaker told a legislative panel on Monday.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage makes $70,000 a year, less than any other governor in the country, and the salary hasn’t increased since 1987. In 1937, Maine’s chief executive made $5,000 a year, which would be nearly $83,000 in today’s dollars, said Rep. John Martin, of Eagle Lake.

“We have actually gone backward,” he told the State and Local Government Committee.

Martin is proposing to raise the governor’s salary to $120,000 a year, which would put Maine on par with states including New Hampshire, Idaho and Mississippi.

But even with the boost, Maine would still lag well behind Pennsylvania, where former GOP Gov. Tom Corbett’s salary was the highest in the country at $187,000 last year, although he didn’t accept the entire amount, according to the Council of State Governments.

LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett wouldn’t say whether the governor would support the idea. She said the fact the Maine governor is the lowest paid in the country is something to take into consideration, but she said she doesn’t know if LePage would think now would be an appropriate time for a raise.


Martin is also seeking to increase lawmakers’ pay starting after the next election from about $14,000 to $24,000 in the first legislative session and from about $10,000 to $17,000 in the second, shorter session. He says that’s necessary to attract good legislative candidates.

But some members of the committee said they’re unsure how they could explain increasing their pay to many of their constituents, who are struggling to pay for gas and put food on the table.

“How do you justify to constituents that are living on a fixed income that you are raising your own pay?” said Republican Rep. William Tuell, of East Machias.

The committee also considered proposals to amend the constitution and lower the age to run for the Legislature and to lengthen the state senator’s terms from two to four years.

Meanwhile, Martin, who recently began his 24th term in the Legislature, wants to get rid of term limits, even though his lengthy reign in Augusta was a driving force behind the effort to approve them in 1993.

Lawmakers are currently held to four consecutive two-year terms, but many get around that by taking two years off before running again or simply switching back and forth between the House and Senate.


Martin told the committee he believes term limits puts too much power in the hands of the executive branch and lobbyists because they hold the institutional knowledge.

But Rick Bennett, chairman of the Maine Republican Party and the former Senate president, argued Martin’s proposal would send the state back to the days when powerful presiding officers “lorded over public policy making, creating an atmosphere of fear and hostility.”

Martin said he would support sending the issue back to voters but insisted he doesn’t plan to be in the Legislature long enough to face term limits again.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.