Next governor should get 20% pay raise to $180,000, commission recommends

Next governor should get 20% pay raise to $180,000, commission recommends

Robert Neall

By Len Lazarick

Government House, the governor's mansion, decorated for Christmas.

Government House, the governor’s mansion, decorated for Christmas.

Maryland’s next governor would get a 20% pay raise to $180,000 a year under recommendations made Tuesday night by the Governor’s Salary Commission.

Four other statewide officials — the lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, state treasurer and secretary of state — would also get a 20% pay hike over the four years of their terms from 2015 to 2018.

All these “constitutional officers,” except for the lower paid secretary of state, would make $149,500 by 2018.

The governor currently makes $150,000, and the others now make $125,000 a year, except for the secretary of state — the only cabinet member in the Maryland Constitution — who makes $87,500.

For the governor elected next year, the proposed salary would go up 10% the first year starting at $165,000 in 2015 and then go up $5,000 a year to $180,000 in 2018. For the four others making $125,000 now, the 2015 salary would go up 10% to $137,500, and then rise $4,000 a year to $149,500 in 2018

‘Modest increases’ after nine years of no raises

Robert Neall

Robert Neall

“We recommended several modest increases,” said Robert Neall, a former state senator and former Anne Arundel County executive who chaired the seven-member commission. “This is partly a catch-up,” along with projected increase, since none of these officials have had a raise in nine years.

This is Neall’s third time on the commission, appointed by Senate President Mike Miller. The commission is created by the Maryland Constitution to make recommendations for the salary of the governor every four years. In keeping with custom, Gov. Martin O’Malley also asked them to make recommendations for the other constitutional officers.

Under the Maryland constitution, state elected officials cannot have their salaries cut or raised during their term of office, except through action taken prior to their election for that term.

According to a briefing report from the Department of Legislative Services, O’Malley currently has the 12th highest governor’s salary in the nation, and lower than that paid the chief executives in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Virginia. The governor of West Virginia makes the same $150,000 a year.

The other statewide officials rank in the middle range compared to the same officials in other states.

 General Assembly can reject, but not raise

The recommendations of the Governor’s Salary Commission will be submitted to the General Assembly in January, which is permitted to reject them, but legislators are not allowed by law to lower any of the salaries from current levels or increase any of the recommendations.

A similar General Assembly Compensation Commission made recommendations on Monday that legislators get a 16% pay raise to $50,331 over the four years of the next term.

Both commissions in 2010 proposed pay hikes for the governor, legislators and other constitutional officers. These proposals were rejected largely due to the condition of the state economy and budget, which forced state employees to take a pay cut through unpaid furlough days.

“There is only one point in time when the constitution permits this recommendation to be considered,” Neall pointed out. “If you miss the boat, four years have to pass before that [pay raise] can happen.”

Given the improved budget situation, Neall saw no reason why people should oppose the increases “unless you’re against raising government salaries” in general.

The salary increases will allow these officials to “recapture the purchasing power” lost over the last nine years, he said.

The governor also gets to occupy Government House, the governor’s mansion across the street from the State House. The private quarters are on the top two-floors of the four-story building.

The mansion comes with a budget for food and entertainment, and has a staff of chefs and other personnel. The governor and family also are provided with state owned cars and SUVs driven by state troopers who are part of the Executive Protection Detail, which is headquartered in part of the mansion.

Recommendations on pension and retiree health benefits  

At the direction of the legislature, the salary commission also looked at the governor’s pension and retiree health benefits.

The Governor’s Salary Commission recommended that, in keeping with the changes in state employees retirement benefits made in 2011, the retirement age for the governor be raised from 55 to 62 years.

The commission did not propose any changes to the pension payout. Governors who complete one full four-year term are entitled to one-third of the salary of a sitting governor. After two full four-year terms, they get half the salary of the current governor.

The other constitutional officers receive the same pension benefits as other state employees, accumulating benefits based on their salaries and years of service.

Under the commission recommendation, the next governor will also receive the same health benefits as other state employees, earning one-sixteenth of health care coverage for every year of state service.

About The Author

Len Lazarick

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.


  1. Pudentain

    I’ll support this for the Governor who can balance the budget while working with the will of the majority of the citizens of Maryland. Right now? OH H… NO!

  2. reader

    Well, hell, why not a thirty or forty percent increase, after all it’s not their money.

  3. cwals99

    Isn’t that odd that at a time when corporations are writing all the laws and our government officials act as marketing and business developers for MD corporations….yes, our pols are simply corporate executives paid for by taxpayers…..that the public would pay them more?

    Do you know the number one problem for MD citizens? Md is ranked at the bottom nationally for fraud, corruption, and lack of transparency says government watchdogs. We have no public justice so we are losing our wealth right and left. Now, that is a public sector job for someone—-public justice and government oversight of business activity in MD.

    Why don’t we wait until we get a public servant in MD that does this before we give raises? Let’s ask these people why these pols deserve a raise given Md’s ranking nationally in most measures. Remember, much of the education, crime, and economic development data has been found to be skewed!


    Sean W. Glynn, Chair (chosen by Governor)

    Appointed by Governor: Sean W. Glynn; Mary C. Larkin; Ackneil M. Muldrow III; Raymond L. Nix; Gabriel Antonio Terrasa, Esq.

    Appointed by Senate President: E. Steuart Chaney; Gene M. Ransom III.

    Appointed by House Speaker: Josh Greene; Kathryn Higgins.

    Terms expire 2014.

  4. Dukehoopsfan

    Absolutely not! Why further encourage folks to become career politicians. They should all get a per diem of $100 for a thirty day legislative session.

  5. joe

    Cut the salaries of Maryland’s governor and legislators in half. Also reduce the Maryland legislative session to 45 days, thus eliminating passage of foolish feel good laws, that criminalize citizens for naught, and that are ignored by most citizens!

  6. ksteve

    Just because adjoining states overpay their top elected officials, Maryland doesn’t have to do the same. If people won;t run for these unless they get an annual salary of over $100,000, who needs them? I think it’s ridiculous that we currently pay someone who is not legally empowered to do ANYTHING $125,000 a year. Maryland’s lieutenant governor serves only as a waiting post in case anything happens to the incumbent governor. The governor can request that he do this or that or nothing at all and the lieutenant governor gets $125,000 regardless. And the commission actually wants the salary for this nothing position to be increased? Reduced would make more sense.

  7. dwb1

    After lying about the budget deficit being solved (its back to 580 million), now they want a raise? After wasting money on a website that did not work and the prison scandal they want a raise? Is this a joke? They’ll be lucky to get elected.

  8. InGodWeTrust

    Wait a minute. “none of these officials have had a pay raise in nine years ? “.
    So the defense of pay raises based on length of service, is TOTALLY OFF BASE !!!
    Anyone who serves any longer than 4 years, is way to vulnerable to corruption…………gee, like maybe just about all of them in office today ?
    Forget the pay raise discussions already! Worry about getting a governor who won’t ROB Maryland residents first. THEN balance the budget. THEN maybe, MAYBE a discussion about pay raises might be warranted…….but I doubt it even then.
    GOOD GRIEF !!!

  9. Adam Meister


  10. abby_adams

    With all due respect to Mr. Neall, payraises for the executive & legislative leaders after subjecting MD taxpayers to several regressive tax increases, along with toll & fee increases, not to mention the huge bond debit burden that will be coming due all to soon? Maybe Neall could suggest how MD taxpayers could recoup lost purchasing power due to a 25% sales tax increase that was supposed to solve our budget issues? Lowering the sales tax maybe? Or how about the new gas tax that increases incrementally & be pegged to an index. Higher gas prices reduced my purchasing power as well but we are all told that roads & bridges across the state are crumbling. So where has the SHA been spending the $$ collected? And I’m not even going to mention the $85 RAIN TAX!
    Maybe those in power should remember that not EVERY MD taxpayer has a government job. Some don’t have jobs at all thanks to the heavy tax burden placed on anyone doing business or residing in the “We Tax Everything” State of MD.

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