How Much Governors Get Paid

governor giving tour

 Getty Images / Hill Street Studios

Governors get paid as little as $70,000 and as much as $191,000 a year in the United States, and that's not including the lavish perks such as free lifetime healthcare and access to taxpayer-owned vehicles and jets many receive for their work as their state's top executive.

A couple of notes about the following information on U.S. governor salaries, however: Not all governors actually take home that amount of money. Some governors voluntarily take pay reductions or return part or all of their salaries to the state treasuries.

And, in many states, governors aren't the highest-paid public officials. That's surprising given the important role governors play; they serve as the chief executive officers of their states. Governors often are seen as potential candidates for president of the United States given their experience operating entire states, much larger role than those held by members of the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, who are but one member of a larger body.

Who Sets the Governor's Salary

Governors are not able to set their own salaries. Instead, state legislatures or independent salary commissions set the salaries for governors. Most governors are also eligible for automatic pay raises every year or cost-of-living adjustments that are based on inflation.

Here's a list of what the 10 highest-paid governors earn, according to the Book of the States, which is published by the Council of State Governments. These data are from 2016.

01
of 10

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf
Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images News

Pennsylvania pays its governor the most of any governor in the United States. The salary is set at $190,823. The governor of Pennsylvania is Democrat Tom Wolf, who unseated Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in 2014. Wolf, a businessman who is independently wealthy, has declined his state salary, however, saying he sees himself as a "citizen-politician."

02
of 10

Tennessee

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam
U.S. Department of Agriculture/Lance Cheung

Tennessee pays its governor the second-most of any governor in the United States. The salary is set at $184,632. The governor of Tennessee is Republican Bill Haslam. Like Wolf in Pennsylvania, Haslam does not accept a government salary and instead returns the money to the state treasury.

03
of 10

New York

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
James Devaney/Getty Images News

New York pays its governor the third-most of any governor in the United States. The salary is set at $179,000. The governor of New York is Democrat Andrew Cuomo, who cut his own salary by 5 percent. 

04
of 10

California

California Gov. Jerry Brown
Vivien Killilea/Getty Images

California pays its governor the fourth-most of any governor in the United States. The salary is set at $177,467. The governor of California is Democrat Jerry Brown.

05
of 10

Illinois

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner
Paul Warner/Getty Images

Illinois pays its governor the fifth-most of any governor in the United States. The salary is set at $177,412. The governor of Illinois is Republican Bruce Rauner.

06
of 10

New Jersey and Virginia

Chris Christie picture
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images News

New Jersey and Virginia pay their governors the sixth-highest salary of any in the United States. The salary is set at $175,000 in those two states. The governor of New Jersey is Republican Chris Christie, who unsuccessfully sought the 2016 presidential nomination after failing to shake off a political scandal during his administration. The governor of Virginia is Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

07
of 10

Delaware

Delaware pays its governor the seventh-most of any governor in the United States. The salary is set at $171,000. The governor of Delaware is Democrat Jack Markell.

08
of 10

Washington

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
Mat Hayward/Getty Images

Washington pays its governor the eighth-most of any governor in the United States. The salary is set at $166,891. The governor of Washington is Democrat Jay Inslee.

09
of 10

Michigan

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder
Paul Warner/Getty Images

Michigan pays its governor the ninth-most of any governor in the United States. The salary is set at $159,300. The governor of Michigan is Republican Rick Snyder. He returns all but $1 of his salary, according to the Council of State Governments.

10
of 10

Massachusetts

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker
Paul Marotta/Getty Images

Massachusetts pays its governor the tenth-most of any governor in the United States. The salary is set at 151,800. The governor of Massachusetts is Republican Charlie Baker.