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How Much Your State Legislators Make Compared to the Rest of America

John Csiszar

Individual states operate their legislatures in many different ways. In some states, legislators only work on a part-time basis, while in others, full-time legislators are required. There are also states that run a hybrid system. As such, legislative pay varies considerably across the U.S.

In several states, the legislative pay is on par with — or even better than — the average salary for state residents. However, in other states, legislators’ pay is nowhere near the average salary. In fact, one state pays nothing at all. These figures don’t include per diem compensation for legislators, which some states offer to help defray daily expenses such as food, lodging or transportation. Per diem payments can be as little as $35 or as much as $275 per day.

To find out how much legislators make in all 50 states compared to average Americans, GOBankingRates analyzed legislator salary information from Ballotpedia and the May 2018 annual mean wage for all occupations in every state, sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Alabama

  • State legislators’ pay: $48,123 per year
  • Average state wage: $43,790 per year

Alabama legislators don’t receive a set per diem, but they are reimbursed for in-state travel expenses. The base salary for state legislators is $48,123, which is over $4,000 more than the annual mean wage that Alabama residents earn.

Alaska

  • State legislators’ pay: $50,400 per year
  • Average state wage: $58,710 per year

Overall, Alaska’s full-time legislators earn $50,400 per year, which is $8,310 less than the state’s annual mean wage of $58,710. However, Alaska legislators are granted the highest per diem compensation in the nation, at $275 per day. The generous per diem rate reflects the high cost of living in the state.

Arizona

  • State legislators’ pay: $24,000 per year
  • Average state wage: $49,290 per year

Arizona legislators earn a flat $24,000 per year, supplemented by a $35 per diem for those living within Maricopa County or a $60 per diem for those living outside of the county. That annual salary breaks down to approximately half of Arizona’s mean wage of $49,290 per year.

Arkansas

  • State legislators’ pay: $40,188 per year
  • Average state wage: $41,540 per year

State legislators who live more than 50 miles from the Arkansas Capitol in Little Rock are entitled to a $155 per diem, while those residing within the 50-mile radius are granted a $59 per diem.

California

  • State legislators’ pay: $110,459 per year
  • Average state wage: $59,150 per year

California’s full-time legislators enjoy the highest salary in the nation, at a whopping $110,459 per year. This amounts to nearly double the average state wage of $59,150 per year. Additionally, California legislators earn a $192 per diem for each day in session.

Colorado

  • State legislators’ pay: $40,242 per year
  • Average state wage: $55,820 per year

Colorado pays its legislators an annual salary of $40,242, which is almost three-quarters of the state’s annual mean wage of $55,820. Legislators also receive a per diem equal to 85% of the federal standard if they live outside of Denver, or $45 per day for those who live within 50 miles of the Colorado Capitol.

Connecticut

  • State legislators’ pay: $28,000 per year
  • Average state wage: $60,780 per year

Connecticut legislators are paid a flat $28,000 per year, with no per diem compensation. This annual salary is a little less than half of the state’s annual mean wage of $60,780.

Delaware

  • State legislators’ pay: $45,291 per year
  • Average state wage: $53,320 per year

The $45,291 salary for Delaware legislators is about $8,000 below the state’s annual mean wage of $53,320. Legislators in Delaware don’t receive additional per diem payments to supplement their salaries.

Florida

  • State legislators’ pay: $29,697 per year
  • Average state wage: $46,010 per year

Florida legislators receive a per diem on top of $29,697 in annual salary, which helps them catch up to the average state wage of $46,010 per year. Legislators make an additional $152 per day based on the number of days they spend in Tallahassee.

Georgia

  • State legislators’ pay: $17,342 per year
  • Average state wage: $48,280 per year

Georgia legislators can thank the Legislative Services Committee for providing them with a generous $173 per diem allowance. That per diem helps offset the low overall salary for Georgia legislators, which comes in at $17,342 per year.

Hawaii

  • State legislators’ pay: $62,604 per year
  • Average state wage: $52,900 per year

Hawaii is one of the most expensive states in the nation, and its high cost of living is reflected in the per diem paid to the state’s legislators. At $225 per day, Hawaii’s per diem rate is among the highest in the country. Legislator salaries are also about $9,700 higher than the average state wage, at $62,604 and $52,900, respectively.

Idaho

  • State legislators’ pay: $17,358 per year
  • Average state wage: $43,480 per year

The compensation commission sets a per diem of $129 for legislators who establish a second residence in Boise, or $49 per day if no such residence exists and up to $25 per day for travel. Beyond that, the part-time legislators in Idaho earn $17,358 per year. 

Illinois

  • State legislators’ pay: $67,836 per year
  • Average state wage: $53,790 per year

Illinois has full-time legislators who earn $67,836 per year, which is far above the annual mean wage in the state, at $53,790. Legislators are also given $111 per session day.

Indiana

  • State legislators’ pay: $25,945 per year
  • Average state wage: $45,290 per year

On top of a base salary of $25,945 per year, Indiana provides its legislators with one of the higher per diems on this list — $173 per day. In comparison, the average salary for Indiana workers as a whole stands at $45,290 annually.

Iowa

  • State legislators’ pay: $25,000 per year
  • Average state wage: $46,150 per year

Iowa legislators earn a flat $25,000 per year, along with a fairly generous per diem of $168. However, the base salary for legislators falls far below the average salary in the state, which is $46,150 per year.

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Kansas

  • State legislators’ pay: $88.66 per day
  • Average state wage: $45,280 per year

A $144 per diem supplements an otherwise low salary for part-time legislators in Kansas. They earn $88.66 per day, which doesn’t stack up well against the annual mean wage of $45,280 in the state.

Kentucky

  • State legislators’ pay: $188.22 per day
  • Average state wage: $43,210 per year

Kentucky is one of 26 states that run a hybrid legislature, which means lawmakers devote the equivalent of 70% of a full-time job. In terms of salary, Kentucky legislators earn $188.22 per day, in addition to a per diem of $158.

Louisiana

  • State legislators’ pay: $22,800 per year
  • Average state wage: $42,660 per year

Louisiana legislators also operate under a hybrid system. They earn $22,800 per year — which is just over half of the state’s annual mean wage of $42,660 — as well as a $164 per diem.

Maine

  • State legislators’ pay: $10,131 per year
  • Average state wage: $46,810 per year

Maine legislators earn a modest part-time salary, amounting to $10,131 over the course of a year. Although a per diem is granted, it’s also relatively low: just $32 per day for food and $38 per day for lodging, or for mileage and tolls in replacement of lodging.

Maryland

  • State legislators’ pay: $50,330 per year
  • Average state wage: $58,770 per year

In addition to $47 per day for meals and $106 per day for lodging, Maryland legislators earn a salary of $50,300 per year. Under Maryland’s hybrid Legislature, lawmakers make less than the average state wage of $58,770.

Massachusetts

  • State legislators’ pay: $62,548 per year
  • Average state wage: $63,910 per year

Massachusetts employs a full-time legislative corps that earns $62,548 per year. This salary is in line with the state’s annual mean wage of $63,910. However, legislators don’t receive a per diem on top of their salaries.

Michigan

  • State legislators’ pay: $71,685 per year
  • Average state wage: $49,510 per year

While Michigan legislators aren’t given a per diem, they’re granted an expense allowance of $10,800 per year for the session and interim. This allowance, which is determined by the compensation commission, accompanies the annual salary of $71,685 paid to Michigan’s full-time legislators.

Minnesota

  • State legislators’ pay: $45,000 per year
  • Average state wage: $54,200 per year

Under Minnesota’s hybrid Legislature, the $45,000 annual lawmaker salary is supplemented by a per diem of $86 for senators and $66 for representatives.

Mississippi

  • State legislators’ pay: $23,575 per year
  • Average state wage: $39,420 per year

Mississippi’s part-time legislative officials earn $23,575 per year for their efforts, plus a per diem of $144. Meanwhile, the annual mean wage in the state is $39,420.

Missouri

  • State legislators’ pay: $35,915 per year
  • Average state wage: $46,460 per year

Under the state’s hybrid Legislature, Missouri lawmakers make less than the average state wage of $46,460 per year. A $115.20 per diem supplement makes the $35,915 annual salary for legislators somewhat more attractive.

Montana

  • State legislators’ pay: $92.46 per day
  • Average state wage: $43,860 per year

At $92.46 per day, Montana’s part-time legislators don’t make much compared with overall workers in the state. However, legislators do receive an additional $114 per diem.

Nebraska

  • State legislators’ pay: $12,000 per year
  • Average state wage: $46,710 per year

Senators working under the hybrid Legislature in Nebraska earn a modest $12,000 per year for their efforts, which is well below the $46,710 pulled down by the average worker in the state. However, legislators benefit from a $144 per diem if they live 50 miles or more from the state Capitol, or a $51 per diem if they live closer.

Nevada

  • State legislators’ pay: $150.71 per day for lawmakers elected in 2016; $146.29 per day for those elected in the midterm races
  • Average state wage: $46,170 per year

Nevada legislators received a pay cut in the most recent midterm elections, with salaries dropping from $150.71 per day to $146.29 per day. Under the hybrid Legislature, lawmakers in Nevada earn less than the annual mean wage in the state. However, they do enjoy a per diem of $142.

New Hampshire

  • State legislators’ pay: $200 per two-year term
  • Average state wage: $52,350 per year

Working for the part-time New Hampshire legislative corps is essentially volunteering. For each two-year term, New Hampshire legislators earn only $200. Additionally, no per diem is granted. This puts legislator salaries far, far below the annual mean wage of $52,350 in the state.

Read More: The Best- and Worst-Paying Jobs in Government

New Jersey

  • State legislators’ pay: $49,000 per year
  • Average state wage: $58,210 per year

New Jersey’s annual mean wage of $58,210 tops the rate earned by legislators, who pull down $49,000 per year. No per diem is paid to these lawmakers who work under the hybrid Legislature.

New Mexico

  • State legislators’ pay: $0 per year
  • Average state wage: $45,400 per year

New Mexico is one of 14 states that employ part-time legislators. In this state, lawmakers can rightfully be called volunteers — they aren’t paid a salary at all. However, they get to enjoy a fairly high per diem of $161.

New York

  • State legislators’ pay: $110,000 per year
  • Average state wage: $61,870 per year

New Yorkers earn one of the highest annual mean wages in the country, at $61,870. However, legislators in the state are paid even more, taking home $110,000 per year — the second-highest salary for lawmakers in the nation. Legislators staying overnight on official business are paid an additional $174 per day; otherwise, the per diem drops to $59.

North Carolina

  • State legislators’ pay: $13,951 per year
  • Average state wage: $47,200 per year

Under the hybrid North Carolina Legislature, lawmakers make an annual salary that is well below the average state wage of $47,200 per year. However, legislators also receive a per diem of $104, set by statute.

North Dakota

  • State legislators’ pay: $177 per day during legislative sessions
  • Average state wage: $49,620 per year

On top of their salaries, legislators in North Dakota get reimbursed for lodging up to $1,682 per month. In 2019, the North Dakota legislative session ran from Jan. 3 to April 26.

Ohio

  • State legislators’ pay: $60,584 per year
  • Average state wage: $48,220 per year

Ohio legislators work full time and earn $60,584 per year, which is over $12,000 more than the annual mean wage in the state. However, no additional per diem is paid to legislators.

Oklahoma

  • State legislators’ pay: $35,021 per year
  • Average state wage: $44,220 per year

Oklahoma legislators only earn $35,021 in annual salary — which falls below the average state wage — but their paychecks are supplemented by a $154 per diem.

Oregon

  • State legislators’ pay: $24,216 per year
  • Average state wage: $52,000 per year

Legislators in Oregon receive a per diem of $144 on top of their $24,216 annual salary. Under the hybrid Legislature, lawmakers earn less than half of the annual mean wage in the state.

Pennsylvania

  • State legislators’ pay: $87,180 per year
  • Average state wage: $50,030 per year

Full-time legislators in Pennsylvania earn a lot of money no matter how you look at it. The annual salary of $87,180 is one of the highest in the nation, topping the average state wage by approximately $37,000. In addition to a generous salary, a per diem of $183 is also granted to Pennsylvania legislators.

Rhode Island

  • State legislators’ pay: $15,959 per year
  • Average state wage: $54,810 per year

Legislators in Rhode Island have a small annual salary of $15,959 to cover their part-time work for the state. No per diem is granted to these officials, either. That salary is less than one-third of Rhode Island’s annual mean wage of $54,810.

South Carolina

  • State legislators’ pay: $10,400 per year
  • Average state wage: $43,210 per year

Under its hybrid Legislature, South Carolina pays legislators just over $10,000 for a year’s work. The per diem allowance is high, however, at $202.03 for each legislative day. Overall, South Carolina residents average $43,210 in annual earnings.

South Dakota

  • State legislators’ pay: $11,379 per session
  • Average state wage: $41,800 per year

In lieu of an annual or daily wage, South Dakota legislators are paid $11,379 per session, plus a $144 per diem. In 2019, there were 40 days in the legislative session, running from Jan. 8 to March 29.

Tennessee

  • State legislators’ pay: $22,667 per year
  • Average state wage: $44,660 per year

Tennessee legislators earn about one-half of the annual mean wage in the state, at $22,667 vs. $44,660, respectively. However, legislators in Tennessee also enjoy a per diem of $229 — a generous allowance second to only Alaska’s.

Texas

  • State legislators’ pay: $7,200 per year
  • Average state wage: $49,720 per year

Texas pays one of the lowest legislator salaries in the nation, at just $7,200 per year. This salary is well below the annual mean wage of $49,720 enjoyed by Texas residents. However, lawmakers working for the hybrid Legislature are also granted a relatively high per diem of $190, as set by the ethics commission.

Utah

  • State legislators’ pay: $273 per day
  • Average state wage: $47,920 per year

In addition to a salary of $273 per day, Utah legislators are reimbursed up to $100 plus tax for lodging each calendar day, and up to $42 per day for meals. These figures are tied to statewide reimbursement rates for lodging and meals.

Vermont

  • State legislators’ pay: $723.27 per week
  • Average state wage: $50,150 per year

The salary for Vermont legislators is reasonable at $723.27 per week. On top of this pay, legislators are granted $125 per day for lodging or $69 per day with no overnight stay.

Virginia

  • State legislators’ pay: $18,000 per year for senators; $17,640 per year for representatives
  • Average state wage: $55,310 per year

Virginia legislators enjoy a high per diem of $203, but otherwise, their salaries are low — at least compared with the state’s high annual mean wage of $55,310. It might be worthwhile to know that senators earn $360 more per year than representatives in Virginia.

Washington

  • State legislators’ pay: $48,731 per year
  • Average state wage: $59,410 per year

Washington legislators are paid $48,731 per year, which is $10,679 less than the average state wage of $59,410 per year. However, lawmakers also earn a per diem of $120 under Washington’s hybrid Legislature.

West Virginia

  • State legislators’ pay: $20,000 per year
  • Average state wage: $42,370 per year

West Virginia legislators work on a part-time basis and take home an annual salary of $20,000, which is well below the average state wage of $42,370 per year. However, legislators can cover some of their expenses with the state’s $131 per diem rate during the session, as set by the compensation commission.

Wisconsin

  • State legislators’ pay: $52,999 per year
  • Average state wage: $47,350 per year

Wisconsin legislators have a unique per diem structure. Generally, senators are allowed up to $115 per day, but senators in Dane County receive only $57.50 per day. Assembly members are granted a $157 per diem if they stay overnight, or a $78.50 per diem if they don’t commute to work. Legislators can claim a maximum of 90 days for per diem payments.

Wyoming

  • State legislators’ pay: $150 per day
  • Average state wage: $48,630 per year

At $150 per day, the salary for Wyoming’s part-time legislators is below the average state wage of $48,630 per year. However, the Legislature also grants a $109 per diem to its members for every day of work.

How Salaries for State Legislators Compare Across the US

Salaries for state legislators are all over the map. In some states, the honor of serving seems to be the primary reward, while in other states — such as California — lawmaking is a full-time job that commands a six-figure salary.

Generally, it can be difficult to compare state legislators’ salaries to average state wages due to differences in how compensation is structured. Legislators can earn a full-time salary, weekly or daily wages, a per-session rate or even nothing at all. Per diems also play a huge role in the overall compensation for state legislators. Some lawmakers receive no per diem, while others pull down over $200 per day.

The bottom line is that there’s no such thing as a standard salary for state legislators, so it pays to do a little research. From state to state, some legislators are earning far more than the average American — and others are essentially volunteering their time.

Click through to discover the richest politician in every state.

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Legislators’ salaries and annual mean wages in every state are accurate as of July 24, 2019.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: How Much Your State Legislators Make Compared to the Rest of America