Lawmakers on Maine’s State and Local Government Committee held a public hearing Monday on LD 2115, “An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the State Compensation Commission.” The bill, sponsored by Rep. Roland “Danny” Martin, would significantly boost the compensation of Maine’s governor, legislators and judges. The pay increases represent the recommendations made by the State Compensation Commission in its January 2020 final report.
Under the bill, the salary of Maine’s governor would increase from $70,000 annually to $135,000, or about a 93% increase. In addition, the governor’s expense account, which is made available by the legislature and can be spent at the governor’s discretion, would provide for $40,000 in funds per year. This represents a growth of $10,000 over the current amount.
Pay for state legislators would also grow under the bill. In the 130th Maine Legislature, lawmakers would be entitled to $14,862 of compensation in the first session of the legislature and $10,582 for the second session, for a total of $25,444 while serving a two-year term. If LD 2115 were to pass this session, future lawmakers would receive $16,000 in annual compensation, or $32,000 over the two-year term.
Lawmakers would also receive a boost in mileage reimbursement under the bill. Rather than receiving 44 cents per mile, lawmakers would receive 58 cents per mile in mileage reimbursement based on the “most reasonable direct route” to the State House in addition to reimbursements for tolls, which lawmakers already receive under current law.
In addition, lawmakers’ housing allowance, which can only be used for overnight accommodations away from home on days immediately preceding or following attendance at daily sessions of the legislature, would increase from $38 per day to $50 per day. Lawmakers also currently receive a $32 meals allowance when the legislature is in session, though that amount is not increased under LD 2115.
LD 2115 would also enable the Legislative Council to set higher pay rates for chairs of permanent legislative committees. Under current law, compensation above the amount set for legislators is given to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House (50% above normal compensation), the majority and minority leaders of both chambers (25% above normal compensation), and the assistant minority and majority leaders of both chambers (12.5% above normal compensation).
Under LD 2115, the Legislative Council could recommend pay increases for committee chairs as early as the December 2020. For each of Maine’s 23 legislative committees there are two chairs, with the exceptions of the Personnel Committee, the Legislative Budget Subcommittee, and the State House Facilities Committee, for which there is only one per committee. The bill does not clarify whether a lawmaker who chairs multiple committees would receive additional compensation for each committee on which the member serves as a chair.
Humorously, and likely due to the subject matter of the bill, its summary contains a long preface clarifying that the State and Local Government Committee does not endorse the bill, but is rather reporting it out for it to receive a public hearing in accordance with normal procedure. The bill summary reads:
“This bill is reported out by the Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government pursuant to the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 3, section 2, subsection 2. The committee has not taken a position on the substance of this bill. By reporting out this bill, the committee is not suggesting and does not intend to suggest that it agrees or disagrees with any aspect of this bill. The committee is reporting out the bill for the sole purpose of having a bill printed that can be referred to the committee for an appropriate public hearing and subsequent processing in the normal course. The committee is taking this action to ensure clarity and transparency in the legislative review of the proposals contained in the bill.”
Judges of Maine courts would also receive significant pay increases under the bill. The salary increases are as follows:
- The Chief Justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court from $116,000 per year to $184,000 per year;
- Associate Justices of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court from $96,000 per year to $169,000 per year;
- Per diem compensation for Active Retired Justices from $350 per day to $500 per day;
- The Chief Justice of the Superior Court from $94,000 per year to $160,000 per year;
- Justices of the Superior Court from $90,000 per year to $150,000 per year;
- Chief Judge of the District Court from $94,000 per year to $160,000 per year;
- Deputy Chief Judge of the District Court from $92,000 per year to $155,000 per year; and
- Associate Judges of the District Court from $90,000 per year to $150,000 per year.