State Executive Salaries: Regional and State-level Comparisons

By Caroline Wills and Rebecca Halpryn

The annual salaries for the five highest-ranking state-level executive positions- governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general and treasurer- have considerable variation. CSG’s annual publication The Book of the States is a comprehensive resource for state policymakers containing in-depth information that is comparable to all 50 states on a variety of major aspects of state government operations. Within The Book of the States, Table 4.11 “Selected State Administrative Officials: Annual Salaries” provides the annual salaries for selected state administrative officials in all 50 states. The Council of State Governments collects this data annually by surveying state executive branches.  

Overview of State Executive Positions

In state governments, governors are directly elected by constituents to head the executive branch. Governors are responsible for managing state executive branches and overseeing the implementation of state laws. On behalf of the state, governors serve as intergovernmental liaisons to the federal government. Additional powers and duties by state for governors can be found in Table 4.4 and 4.5.

The lieutenant governor serves as the second-highest executive office, is usually subordinate to the governor, and typically assumes the gubernatorial role when governor is absent from office. Arizona, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon and Wyoming do not have a lieutenant governor position. More information about the lieutenant governor’s powers and duties are available within Table 4.14 in The Book of the States.

The secretary of state is usually the third in the line of succession and is responsible for overseeing all state and local elections within a state. The secretary of state in an executive state branch also has additional registration, custodial, publication, legislative and administrative powers and duties (The Book of the States: Table 4.17 & 4.18). In Alaska, Hawaii and Utah, the secretary of state position does not exist. In Utah and Alaska, the lieutenant governor takes on most of the duties of the secretary of state.

The state attorney general (The Book of the States: Tables 4.21, 4.22, & 4.23) serves as the chief legal officer and law enforcement within a state advocating for the public interest by representing their state legislature and agencies. In a majority of states, the attorney general has significant influence on how a state undertakes law enforcement procedures and services.

In an executive office, the treasurer (The Book of the States: Table 4.26) typically serves as a state’s chief financial officer by overseeing a state’s revenue and finances responsible for ensuring the safety and security of a state’s money. In Florida, Hawaii, Minnesota, Montana and Texas, the treasurer’s duties are taken on by other officials.  

Map 1: Governor Salary as a Percentage of the National Average, 2022

The average annual gubernatorial salary across all 50 states in 2022 is $148,939, a 4.12% increase from 2021. At the state-level, New York has the highest gubernatorial salary at $250,000 whereas Maine has the lowest gubernatorial salary at $70,000. Computing the average gubernatorial salary by CSG region shows that governors in the East region earn the highest salary, $170,545, on average compared to the other regions, South, $149,060, Midwest, $139,520 and West, $138,487. The difference between the highest and lowest regional averages for the annual gubernatorial salary is $32,508, whereas the difference between New York and Maine is $180,000.

Map 2: Lieutenant Governor Salary as a Percentage of the National Average, 2022

The average annual lieutenant gubernatorial salary across the 45 states with lieutenant governors in 2022 is $108,380, a 0.28% decrease from 2021. New York has the highest lieutenant governor salary at $220,000 compared to Texas, which has the lowest salary at $7,200. The highest-paid lieutenant governor earns $212,800 more per year than the lowest-paid lieutenant governor. The CSG East region has the highest average lieutenant gubernatorial salary at $142,922 compared to the CSG South region, which has the lowest average salary at $78,274. This is a difference of $64,648.

Across all 47 states, the 2022 average salary for the secretary of state position is $121,628, a 2.95% annual increase from 2021. Arizona has the lowest annual salary at $70,000 while Tennessee has the highest salary at $222,252 for the secretary of state position. The CSG region with the highest average salary for a secretary of state is the Eastern region at $137,041, and the CSG region with the lowest is the Midwestern region at $103,946. 

The average salary for state attorney general in 2022 is $139,075 across all 50 states, a 1.05% annual increase from 2021. Oregon has the lowest annual salary for an attorney general at $82,220 and New York has the highest salary at $220,000. The difference between New York and Oregon is $137,780. A CSG regional analysis indicates the Eastern region has the highest average salary for the attorney general position, $155,126, while the Midwestern region has the lowest at $125,841. 

The average annual salary for treasurer in 2022 across all 45 states is $126,015, a 2.15% increase from $123,358 in 2021. The state with the lowest salary for Treasurer is Arizona at $70,000 and the state with the highest salary is Tennessee at $222,252. The CSG East region has the highest average salary, $143,298, for the treasurer position while the Midwest region has the lowest, $110,124. 

Data notes:

  • Annual salaries reported do not include benefits and other compensation for selected state officeholders. General wage and salary adjustments for officials within states’ executive branches are automatically increased with the rate of inflation or must be negotiated and legislatively approved.  
  • Connecticut was the only state that did not respond to the 2022 CSG Survey of State Personnel Agencies and State Salary Databases, data from the 2021 CSG SPA&SSD Survey was used.
  • The Council of State Governments Regions are defined by the regional offices and the states as listed below:
    • West: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming
    • Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin
    • South: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia
    • East: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont