Higher salary for the next governor $135,000 recommended: It's not even as much as your congressman will be paid in '98.

November 27, 1997

FOR POLITICAL REASONS, Gov. Parris N. Glendening opposes the recommendation of an independent commission that the next governor get a $15,000 pay raise in 1999. So does Ellen R. Sauerbrey, the GOP front-runner for governor. But the panel was right to ignore both of them.

Maryland's governor runs a $15 billion business with 80,000 employees. In the private sector, such a CEO would be rewarded handsomely. But we pay our state's CEO only $120,000 a year -- less than some of his own cabinet secretaries and far less than a member of Congress.

Most workers get an annual pay evaluation or cost of living adjustment every few years. Our governor gets no COLA and no annual pay hike. Every four years, a commission suggests to the General Assembly what salary is appropriate. Then it is up to the legislature to approve or lower that figure. They're the ones ultimately putting a value on the governor's job.

Maryland's governor has awesome powers, more than any other elected official here. It is a non-stop job, days and nights, weekdays and weekends. As Washington has shifted powers back to the states, the governor's responsibilities have grown. No matter what decisions he makes, he is bound to displease a large segment of Maryland's 5 million stakeholders.

It has been seven years since the last gubernatorial pay raise. If the commission recommendation is rejected by lawmakers, it will mean a 12-year freeze -- from 1990 until 2002. That's too long between salary adjustments.

If Mr. Glendening, Ms. Sauerbrey or any other politician who become governor doesn't want to accept his or her full salary, that's understandable. He or she can simply write a check to the comptroller or charity. That should not deter legislators from setting an appropriate pay level for state government's CEO, one that recognizes the importance of the post.

Pub Date: 11/27/97

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