Gavin Newsom, who is facing recall, is one of the highest-paid governors in the country

CALIFORNIA — With an annual salary of $209,747, California Gov. Gavin Newsom finds himself among the highest-paid Governors in the United States. With 40 million people, California is the largest US state.

If California were a sovereign nation, it would rank as the world’s fifth largest economy, ahead of India and behind Germany.

The states with the five highest gubernatorial salaries in 2020 were New York at $225,000, California at $209,747, Pennsylvania at $201,729, Tennessee at $198,780, and Massachusetts at $185,000. The states with the five lowest gubernatorial salaries in 2020 were Maine at $70,000, Colorado at $92,700, Arizona at $95,000, Oregon at $98,600, and Nebraska at $105,000.

The average gubernatorial salary across all states was $145,730 in 2020, a 1.7% increase over the average gubernatorial salary in 2019. Gubernatorial salaries increased in 18 states by, on average, $6,604, or 4.3% and decreased in one state by 0.5%. Gubernatorial salaries in the other 31 states remained the same.

Eighteen states paid their governor more last year than in 2019, according to the Council of State Governments‘ Book of the States. Gubernatorial salaries in 2020 ranged from a low of $70,000 in Maine to a high of $225,000 in New York, with the average governor making $145,370. In the 18 states where a governor’s salary increased, the average increase was $6,604, or 4.3%. Washington was the only state to decrease its governor’s salary, registering a 0.5% decrease over the 2019 rate.

Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Oregon have been in the bottom five states for gubernatorial compensation since at least 2010. Only New York has been in the top five in every year since 2010. New York was also the state with the largest increase in gubernatorial salary in 2020, with a $25,000 increase relative to 2019.

Gubernatorial salaries are typically determined either by a state’s constitution or by statute. Most often, the salary portion of a governor’s compensation is defined by law, but additional benefits (insurance, official residence, and other work-related equipment) may be established by state agencies, custom, or other factors. For instance, 45 states subsidize the governor’s travel and 45 states have official gubernatorial residences.

In some cases, salaries automatically increase each year either at the rate of inflation or by another percentage chosen by the legislature. In other states, the legislature must pass salary increases for the governor. Five states have increased their governor’s salaries in each of the past three years: Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Kentucky, and Vermont.



Image Sources

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom: Shutterstock