"Moving forward, I wouldn't have a problem with governors making more money," says Gov. Jan Brewer.

Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX - It's been 13 years since Arizona's governor has gotten a raise.

And its current officeholder thinks the time may have come to give her successor a raise.

"You get into public service because of public service," Jan Brewer said. "So, it's not about the money."

But Brewer said the current $95,000 figure does not adequately compensate the state's chief executive.

"The job is very, very difficult," she said. "Moving forward, I wouldn't have a problem with governors making more money. Arizona is at the low end of the pay scale for governors."

The Council of State Governments reports that as of 2010, the most recent figures available, only four states paid their governors less.

But even that does not paint a complete picture: Each of those four states provides its chief executive with an official residence as part of the compensation package, whether paid for by taxpayers or special foundations. Most states have such a house.

Brewer, like most of her predecessors, lives in her own house, at her own expense.

The governor said she expects the issue to come up when the Commission on Salaries for Elective State Officers meets this summer.

Under state law, the commission meets every two years to come up with salary recommendations.

Proposals for the salaries of lawmakers go directly to the voters. But the compensation for everyone else is forwarded to the governor, who gets to decide how much - if any - to include in her budget recommendation to the Legislature.

At that point, lawmakers can alter or reject the numbers. But there's an interesting provision in the law: If legislators do not act within 90 days, the governor's recommendations take effect after the next election. That means Brewer, constitutionally prohibited from seeking re-election in 2014, would not benefit from anything she suggests.

The salary commission has made recommendations for raises almost every other year since 1998, when it recommended bumping the governor's pay from $75,000 to the current $95,000.

Since then, the recommendations have been torpedoed, first by legislative vetoes, and later, when former Gov. Janet Napolitano refused to include pay hikes in her budget proposals.

Two years ago, Brewer blocked the commission from even meeting to consider higher pay for any state official by refusing to appoint her two members of the five-person panel.

The governor's $95,000 salary also means she is paid less than most of the state agency directors she supervises (and less than her chief of staff, Eileen Klein, who makes $165,000). For example, Tom Betlach, director of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, makes exactly twice as much as Brewer.

What others earn

Salaries of governors around the nation:

Top 5

1. New York $179,000

2. Illinois $177,500

3. Michigan $177,000

4. New Jersey $175,000

5. Virginia $175,000

Bottom 5

45. (tie) Arizona $95,000

45. (tie) Indiana $95,000

47. Oregon $93,600

48. Colorado $90,000

49. Arkansas $87,357

50. Maine $70,000

Source: Council of State Governments

Past salaries

Arizona governor salary history

1973 $35,000

1977 $40,000

1981 $50,000

1983 $56,000

1985 $62,500

1975 $75,000

1999 $95,000

Source: Commission on Salaries for Elective State Officers


Here's the history of Arizona's lack of a governor's mansion:

Arizona never had a governor's home until 1975, when Raúl Castro of Tucson became governor.

"All the governors up until that time had been from Phoenix," Castro explained several years ago. So Castro lived in a Phoenix motel after he was elected. "It's pretty hard for a governor to be operating from a hotel," Castro quipped.

Tom Chauncey, former owner of a TV station, donated a home he owned in Paradise Valley. But the state sold the home after Castro resigned to become ambassador to Argentina. Neither of the next two governors, Wesley Bolin and Bruce Babbitt, wanted the house because both already had Phoenix homes.

Capitol Media Services