As a citizen of Pennsylvania, I was surprised by a recent article that appeared in our local newspaper. According to the Associated Press, my state is paying its governor, Republican Tom Corbett, more than any other governor in the nation. In 2012 his salary was set by state law at $183,255. In 2013 it rises to $187,256.
There are several curious features associated with Governor Corbett’s compensation. First, according to his spokesman, the governor has refused to take three yearly cost-of-living increases since he came into office in 2010. So, his actual pay received has been just under $175,000 per year. At that level, he would come in below the salaries of governors in states like New York and Illinois.
But even though Governor Corbett does not take all the salary allotted to him by law, that money still belongs to him. He must pay taxes on the full amount. That amount will also be counted toward his pension. So, whether he likes it or not, Tom Corbett is indeed the highest paid of all the nation’s governors.
That naturally raises the question, “Is he worth it?”
Interestingly, the state’s legislature appears not to think so. Although Pennsylvania’s governor is paid better than any other in the land, there are 189 other state employees who make more than he does. If salary is a measure of value to the employing organization, the governor of Pennsylvania is only the 190th most valuable official in the state.
More seriously, has his performance on the job reflected the preeminence among governors his rate of compensation would seem to suggest? Most of my fellow Pennsylvanians don’t appear to think so.
According to a poll conducted in February 2013 by Franklin and Marshall College, Gov. Corbett’s job approval ratings have hit “record lows.” Only 26 percent of those polled believe the governor is performing at an “excellent” or “good” level. Even fellow Republicans give him only a 41 percent positive rating. A spokesman for the Franklin and Marshall College Poll says that this is the lowest rating the poll has ever recorded.
As a Pennsylvania citizen, I’m tempted to wish we could adjust the governor’s salary based on the electorate’s evaluation of how well he is doing his job. But there’s probably no practical way to do that. And, on second thought, it’s not really necessary. We already have a pretty good mechanism for expressing our displeasure with an official who’s just not doing the job the way we want it done. It’s called an election.
Governor Corbett’s next official performance review will take place on November 4, 2014.