Despite the political power, governors aren't always the most well-paid government employees in their state.
In fact, a recent report from the Congressional Research Service finds that 77,057 federal government employees nationwide make more than their respective state's governor.
The report, requested by Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, reviews 2009 federal employee salaries across the country, and comes during the on-going debate over whether public sector pay rates are draining state budgets.
An array of government positions offer higher pay rates than that of governor. Government medical officers, for instance, are the most likely to be paid more than their governor with 18,351 employees nationwide receiving higher pay, according to the report. Air traffic controllers are the second most likely with 5,170 earning more than their governors.
Some chaplains, archaeologists and food service workers are also paid more than their state governor, the report said.
On his website, Senator Coburn stated that government employees deserve to be paid fairly but was concerned with much of the report's findings due to the struggling economy. “This report begs for an explanation of why interior designers, recreation planners, and other public employees are enjoying higher salaries than state governors,” he said.
And it's not just federal workers receiving handsome pay, either. In California, state-employed lifeguards are often paid well over $100,000. And athough that still falls short of the California governor’s $212,179 salary, it exceeds the salaries of other state governors, such as Maine's Paul LePage, who is paid only $70,000.
But the problem doesn’t lie with the salaries of full-time government employees, according to Beth Moten, legislative and political director for the American Federation of Government Employees. She says that pay rates for government contractors are what need to be reevaluated, not that of government employees who provide valuable services to the public.
“So the government’s paying $700,000 and more for contractor salaries, and Sen. Coburn worries about the pay of physicians who care for wounded soldiers?" Moten asks, according to the Washington Times. "If those governors want to make more money, they should either become contractors or try applying to medical school.”