Arkansas income levels trail behind the median and per capita income levels in most U.S. states. The governor’s salary follows that trend. The Council of State Governments lists the Arkansas governor’s salary at $87,352 in 2010. It was the second lowest salary for American governors, according to the organization’s annual “Book of the States.” Any increase in the governor’s salary requires legislative action.
Arkansas and Maine pay their governors the lowest salaries, based on figures compiled by The Council of State Governments annually. Maine paid its governor $70,000 in 2010. Five other states paid their governors less than $100,000: Arizona, Indiana, West Virginia, Oregon and Colorado. No state paid its governor more than $200,000. Michigan offered the highest salary at $177,000, followed by California at $173,876.
While the salary is low in Arkansas, the governor does receive other benefits, including an official residence, a car, an airplane and reimbursement for travel expenses. Housing and other benefits provided to some state governors, but not others, makes it difficult to compare their compensation based strictly on their salary figures.
The Arkansas Governor’s Mansion is a brick Georgian Colonial mansion in Little Rock, set on 8.5 acres that include extensive gardens. The state legislature initially voted in 1947 to spend $100,000 to build it. It added another $97,000 in 1949. Gov. Sidney McMath moved into the mansion in 1950. Former President Bill Clinton lived in the mansion with his wife and daughter while he served as governor. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee moved into a triple-wide mobile home on the property in 2000 during renovations to the house.
The Arkansas legislature must act on salary increases for the governor, five other constitutional officers, legislators, judges and prosecutors. It usually makes the decision near the beginning of the calendar year, when the legislature puts together a budget for the fiscal year that begins in July. Arkansas raised the governor’s salary in 2009, along with salaries for others in the group. Gov. Mike Beebe announced at the time he wouldn’t accept the pay increase. The legislature didn’t include a pay raise for the governor or other elected officials in the budget it approved early in 2011.