ANNAPOLIS – Maryland’s governor already makes the third- highest salary in the nation, but a state commission said he is overdue for a raise that would make him the highest paid.
While Gov. Parris Glendening has said his current salary of $120,000 is “fair and reasonable,” the Governor’s Salary Commission said the next governor needs a $15,000 raise.
“No increase has been provided for eight years,” commission staff member James Stoops told the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on Wednesday.
Lawmakers also heard from a separate panel that said state judges, unlike the governor, are underpaid and deserve a raise of $11,275 on salaries that range from $89,200 to $124,500.
The legislature last year turned down a $9,000 recommended raise for judges, which members of the Judicial Compensation Commission said makes the need for a raise this year more urgent.
The Governor’s Salary Commission also expressed some urgency: While the judges can come back every year seeking a raise, the state constitution only allows the governor’s salary to be reviewed every four years.
The commission also reviewed salaries for the lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, treasurer and secretary of state. It recommended $15,000 raises for all but the secretary of state, who it said should get a $10,000 raise.
Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, whose $100,000 salary currently ranks second in the nation among lieutenant governors, would become the highest-paid if the proposed raise was approved.
In an Oct. 23 letter to the commission, Glendening opposed raises for both the governor and lieutenant governor.
But Stoops said the commission chose to recommend a raise despite Glendening’s objections because he currently makes less than some members of his Cabinet.
“We have to decide whether he ought to get it anyway or whether we go along with what he wants,” said Sen. Barbara Hoffman, D-Baltimore, chairman of the committee.
Lawmakers can approve some or all of the commission’s recommendations, but they cannot exceed them or cut the governor’s current salary.
The Judicial Compensation Commission, meanwhile, justified its recommendation for an across-the-board raise for “the most important branch of government,” saying judges have not received a raise except for cost-of-living increases since 1989.
The panel said the current salaries for Maryland judges are below the regional average and are not enough to attract and retain the best people for an important job.
“We preside over death penalty cases,” said Prince George’s Circuit Court Judge William Missouri. “We get a lot of threats. The judges of this state need and deserve a pay raise.”
Mebane Turner, a member of the judicial commission, said its recommendation for an $11,275 across-the-board raise for judges was made after “a clear, concise and fair study.”
“It is extraordinarily important for us to bring their salaries back to the rankings we had before the recession,” said Turner.
The committee took no action on either salary report Wednesday.