After years of failed efforts, the Legislature’s budget committee has approved pay increases for Maine’s next governor and for state lawmakers starting in the next regular session.

The bills face a final vote in the Senate before they will be sent to Gov. Janet Mills, who has not commented on either bill.

The salary for Maine’s governor – $70,000 a year – is the lowest in the country and has not been increased in nearly four decades.

Previous efforts to boost the governor’s salary have been stymied by lawmakers who also wanted their salaries raised as well as by worry about the possible political fallout.

Rep. Sawin Millett, R-Waterford, who serves on the budget committee, co-sponsored a bill to increase the salary of the next governor to $125,000 and increase the expense account by $10,000 to $40,000.

“It’s been 36 years since it’s been adjusted,” Millett said. “I think this is an adjustment that’s long overdue.”


The salary increase will not benefit Mills, who is term-limited and will instead apply to the next elected governor.

The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, which crafts the budget, voted unanimously late Wednesday in support of increasing the governor’s salary but split on a separate bill to increase salaries of state representatives and senators by about $17,000.

L.D. 1155, which would increase legislative salaries for the next Legislature to $25,000 for the first session and $20,000 for the second session, advanced by a 10-3 vote. Lawmakers earn about $16,250 for the first session, and $11,670 for the second session.

A 2018 survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures, a nonprofit that provides research to lawmakers and the public, found Maine’s salaries for lawmakers among the lowest in the country.

Increasing the legislator salaries would cost $1.66 million in the first year and increase to $1.71 million two years later.

Maine’s governor is the nation’s lowest-paid by a wide margin. Colorado’s governor is next at $92,700, followed by Arizona’s governor, at $95,000, according to the Council of State Governments.


Governors in other New England states earned at least twice as much as Maine’s governor in 2021: $143,704 in New Hampshire, $184,100 in Vermont, $185,000 in Massachusetts, $150,000 in Connecticut, and $147,755 in Rhode Island, according to the council. New York’s governor is the nation’s highest-paid and made $225,000 in 2021.

In Maine, the governor’s salary was last increased in 1987. If it had kept pace with inflation, it would now be above $188,000.

More than 2,400 Maine state employees earned more than their governor in 2021, according to state payroll records. They include all the commissioners who work at the governor’s pleasure. Most of those department heads earn between $145,000 and $188,000. The governor’s two-person communications and media staff made $117,720 and $99,000 that year.

At least five bills to increase the governor’s salary were filed in the past three Legislatures. All of them were unanimously killed in committee.

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