Although Florida is now the third largest state in the union, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ $141,400 annual salary doesn’t make it in the top ten highest paid governors in the country.
That needs to be corrected, say state Republican lawmakers, which is why on Thursday they approved a proposal (HB 5007) that would raise the annual salary of the governor to “at least 100%” of what a member of the Florida Supreme Court makes, now $251,414.
The proposal also says that the salaries of the lieutenant governor, and the state Cabinet offices — attorney general, chief financial officer, and agricultural commissioner — would rise to at least 95 percent of the annual salary established for the governor. Currently, the lieutenant governor’s salary is $135, 515 and the Cabinet officers make $139,988.
None of these increases would kick into effect until fiscal year 2027, meaning DeSantis will himself not benefit from the increase.
The bill was approved on a party-line vote, with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats opposed.
GOP House Appropriations Chair Tom Leek said it was appropriate to raise the salary that the state pays its governors, because there are 1,900 state employees who make more than the governor does. “Florida is the lowest paid governor of many of the top 10 states,” he noted.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul makes the highest salary of any governor in the country at $250,000, according to Ballotpedia. The governors of California, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Vermont all follow, with the Vermont governor making $191,734.
Among the state employees who make more than the governor are Education Commissioner Manny Diaz ($314,553) and Department of Correction head Ricky Dixon ($193,636), according to a state agency website of state employees.
Orlando area Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani said she understood the incongruity that the governor makes less than so many state employees, but nevertheless opposed the increase because she said the position offers benefits that no other state employee gets, such as housing and a generous health care package.
“We have hundreds of thousands of Floridians who don’t even have health insurance right now,” she said. “I don’t think that I can ethically support legislation that boosts the salary of the next governor and the future governors knowing just how everyday Floridians are struggling to make ends meet. Knowing the reality of our service-based economy. Knowing the reality of our safety nets. Knowing our unemployment system … let’s look at the needs of everyday people and the dollars that can be used in 2027 could really go to other places.”
Jacksonville Democratic Rep. Angie Nixon also isn’t a fan of the increases. She proposed four amendments a day earlier that would ensure that the next governor would not make any more money than the sitting governor does. None passed.
One of her amendments was dubbed the “Rick Scott Only Took a Penny Salary as Governor and Therefore All Governors Should Do It Too Act,” which would set the governor’s salary at a penny.
Scott, a multimillionaire, announced when he ran for governor in 2010 that he would not accept a salary in office.
Another amendment that went down to defeat called for all of the elected officers and judges slated to get a pay raise in 2027 not to receive an amount higher than the median income for residents based on the most recent U.S. Census, which is listed as $38,850.
Nixon brought back that argument on the floor on Thursday, while taking a verbal shot at the governor for being AWOL from the state for much of last year as he competed for the Republican nomination for president.
“Now we are potentially allowing the next governor to make — get — an $110,000 raise a year, when our current governor has already proved that being governor can be a part time job,” she said.
–Mitch Perry, Florida Phoenix