AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Legislature is again considering a bill that would raise the pay of the governor, judges and lawmakers and drew little opposition at a Monday hearing, though the potential price tag will be a main hurdle to winning bipartisan support.
The legislative proposal came from the bipartisan State Compensation Commission and calls for significant raises, including the governor’s salary from $70,000 a year to $135,000 a year. The salary for Maine’s governor is the lowest in the nation, and it has not been changed since 1987. The proposal would make Maine’s governor the 35th-highest paid one in the nation.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Danny Martin, D-Sinclair, who told fellow members of the the State and Local Government Committee on Monday that he agrees with the need for increasing compensation, but the details of how to do it are up to the committee.
“This committee can do anything it wants, quite frankly,” Martin said. “What’s going to be hard is to get bipartisan support if we are going to get anything enacted.”
The only member of the public to speak at the hearing, Bangor resident Larry Danzinger, says the state has many needs that are higher than pay for state officials.
“We are proud that we have kept them lower so that we can devote more of our resources to all state employees and Maine people,” he says.
The cost of the legislation will depend on what the committee supports, but it could be millions of dollars. For example, it raises pay for lawmakers and increases their meals and lodging payments. Some committee members expressed concern over the cost of those proposals.
Proposals to raise the pay of the governor and lawmakers are perennial ideas in the Legislature, but they often fail because of lawmakers’ reluctance to raise their own pay. Rep. John Martin, D-Eagle Lake, whose 19-year tenure as House speaker led to a successful push for term limits, has often advocated for repealing limits while raising pay for lawmakers.
BDN writer Michael Shepherd contributed to this article, which appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.