This Map Shows the Average Pay of Politicians in All 50 States
Public officials are presumably elected to serve the will of the people (often in addition to the special interest groups and lobbyists that finance their campaigns) and, well, they can't do it without a salary.
Holding office doesn't guarantee a glittering pay stub, either, although it helps if you live in a governor's mansion. A new map from the data-wonks at Zippia aims to paint a helpful depiction of which states pay their politicians the most (and the least) in all 50 states.
Accounting for governor's salaries is pretty easy; they're pretty well-documented in various studies over the years, like the Council of State Governments’ Book of the States, or through Ballot Pedia, which Zippia used to find this year's data.
State reps and senators are different, though. While sates pay their representatives a base salary, the officials also receive a per diem for days worked throughout the year. But since that daily stipend and the length of legislative season varies state by state, we get a huge range of salaries. Zippia parsed through all the minutiae, and came up with a map ranking each state according to their politicians' salary.
Zippia is quick to note this is "an apples to apples" projection of what public officials make across the country. They combined the base pay and per diems paid to politicians per average session length, meaning that, yes, there's a lot of fluctuation.
Without further ado, here's the full map:
Ranking the highest are Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan, and West Virginia. Pennsylvania's governor is paid a hefty $187,818 salary, while its reps are doled out $85,338.65 a year. In Ohio, there's a broader gulf between gubernatorial paychecks and lawmakers in the capitol, as the salaries range from 148,886 to $60,584 for state reps. In West Virginia, the last of the top ranking states, the governor earns $150,000 while reps earn a measly $27,860.
The bottom half of the totem pole is disheartening for anyone aspiring toward a career in politics. The states of New Hampshire, Maine, Kansas, Wyoming, and New Mexico are especially bleak. In Maine, the state with the lowest governor's salary of $70,000, state reps earn just $14,100 per year. Kansas is even worse, with an average rep's annual salary factoring in at just $9,315, according to Zippia. But perhaps the least incentivizing salary comes from New Hampshire, where public servants earn $100 a year for their services.
Like we said, good luck running for office in these states without quitting your day job.