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Governor’s Salary Commission Mulls Pay Increases for Top State Positions

A commission wants to bring state officials’ salaries in line with those of members of Congress. Photo illustration by Maryland Matters.

Members of the Governor’s Salary Commission on Tuesday weighed bringing the salaries of Maryland’s lieutenant governor, comptroller, attorney general and treasurer closer to the amount paid to members of Congress.

The commission, which meets every four years, is tasked with recommending any gubernatorial pay increases for the years 2023 to 2026 to the General Assembly, although Department of Legislative Policy Analyst Steven D. McCulloch said at the meeting that the commission has also been tasked with recommending pay increases for the other constitutional officers in the past. The commission is not allowed to recommend salaries lower than current levels.

Commission member D. Bruce Poole, a former state delegate and former chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party, suggested that salaries for the state’s lieutenant governor, comptroller, treasurer should be brought closer to the $174,000 salaries of members of Congress based on the amount of work those officials do.

“To me, $174,000, given the expenses they face, but also the responsibilities that they have, is appropriate,” Poole said.

Commission members noted that the salaries of deputy cabinet positions have surpassed the comptroller, attorney general and treasurer.

Commission members coalesced around raising pay for the state’s lieutenant governor, treasurer, comptroller and attorney general to $175,000 from 2023 through 2026 from the current $149,500; raising the governor’s salary over that same period from $180,000 to $195,000; and raising the secretary of state’s pay from $105,500 to $120,000. Those pay increases could be phased in between 2023 and 2026 or take full effect in 2023, but panelists haven’t decided on whether to use an incremental or immediate increase.

At $180,000, Maryland’s governor is currently the ninth-highest paid in the nation, according to meeting materials from the Department of Legislative Services. New York’s governor has the highest pay at $225,000.

Poole said he put forward a comparatively lesser pay increase for the governor because that office also covers various costs of living, like housing and transportation.

Maryland’s lieutenant governor, who has no constitutional duties, is the seventh highest paid in the nation; the state’s comptroller and attorney general are both the 16th highest paid; the treasurer is 12th highest paid.

Panelists are set to finalize their recommendations to the General Assembly at a virtual meeting next Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.

The Governor’s Salary Commission is composed of three members appointed by Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) and three members appointed by House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County). State Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp (D) is also an ex-officio member.

Members of the commission appointed by Ferguson are:

  • Jamar Brown, a partner with Rosenberg, Martin Greenberg, a business law firm;
  • Eleanor M. Carey, who served as senior counselor to former Gov. Parris N. Glendening between 1996 and 1998 and as associate and deputy attorney general from 1979 to 1987;
  • Bruce Plaxen, an attorney based in Columbia who other members selected to chair the commission Tuesday

And members appointed by Jones include:

  • Poole, a former House majority leader;
  • Lindsey Reynolds, a political strategist who is currently the chief operating and financial officer for the polling firm GQR;
  • Chuck Tildon, the vice president of external affairs at the University of Maryland Medical Center

The Governor’s Salary Commission didn’t recommend pay increases for Maryland’s governor and other officials when it met four years ago. The commission’s 2013 iteration recommended the governor’s pay increase from $150,00 in 2015 to $180,000 in 2018, where it stands today.

The 2013 Governor’s Salary Commission also increased pay for the comptroller, attorney general, lieutenant governor and treasurer from $125,000 in 2015 to $149,500 in 2018, where those salaries remain. They also recommended pay for the secretary of state be increased from $87,500 in 2015 to $105,000 in 2018.

The General Assembly will have the final say over pay increases. Lawmakers can lower any increase recommended by the commission, but can’t increase those recommended salaries. If lawmakers can’t adopt or amend the commission’s recommendations within the first fifty days of the legislative session, the commission’s recommendations take effect.

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Governor’s Salary Commission Mulls Pay Increases for Top State Positions