OUR VIEW: Governor pay isn’t too low in South DakotaGov. Dennis Daugaard wants to bump pay for state workers, a group that took a hit financially as South Dakota endured an economic recession that devastated the state budget.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard wants to bump pay for state workers, a group that took a hit financially as South Dakota endured an economic recession that devastated the state budget.
According to the proposed $4 billion budget the governor submitted to the Legislature last month, the plan is to give state workers a 3 percent increase and an additional bonus check later in the year. This is a good idea; the wages of state employees have been frozen for three years, and their pay should increase as the state comes out of its economic funk.
We have commended Daugaard for making hard decisions about state salaries, including his own. He cut his own pay by about $15,000 shortly after coming into office.
The governor still received around $98,331 in 2011 and, if the pay increases go into effect, will see his salary rise to $100,972.
Although nobody is asking, we still wonder: Should his salary simply receive the 3 percent increase, or should it revert back to the previous rate of $115,000? Daugaard did, after all, voluntarily decrease his own pay.
We say the former, and here’s why: Although the salary for South Dakota’s governor is below the national average, it’s not as near the bottom of the list as one would assume.
According to the website stateline.org, the U.S. average in 2010 was $130,595. New York’s governor is the nation’s highest paid, at $179,000, while Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey and Virginia rank Nos. 2-5, all with salaries between $177,500 and $175,000.
Maine has the lowest governor salary, at $70,000. As of 2010, six other states were below $100,000, including Arizona, Indiana, West Virginia, Oregon, Colorado and Arkansas.
And back in 2010 — when our governor was paid $115,000 — South Dakota’s governor compensation was higher than the salaries paid to the governors of North Dakota ($105,036), Nebraska ($105,000), Wyoming ($105,000) and Montana ($100,121).
The salary paid to South Dakota’s top executive should be comparable to those states, and not $10,000 to $15,000 higher.