DAYTON, Ohio (AP) _ A newspaper investigation has found the average pay gap between men and women in the offices of four of Ohio’s five elected statewide officials has grown to as much as almost $10 an hour, as it’s shrunk to under a dollar across the rest of state government.

Women working in Republican Gov. John Kasich’s office earn $9.81-an-hour less, on average, than men, the Dayton Daily News analysis published Sunday showed ( ).

That’s the highest gender pay gap among statewide officeholders, according to the newspaper’s study of Ohio Department of Administrative Services data.

The gender gap compares to $3.99-an-hour under former Gov. Ted Strickland.

The report comes as national debate over pay differences between men and women is in the spotlight after the U.S. Senate failed to pass a bill last week seeking to narrow the pay gap.

Republican lawmakers said the measure could hinder employers from granting raises, or permitting flexible hours in exchange for lower pay, for fear of costly lawsuits. For Democrats, the bill was the latest stressing income-fairness they are pushing this campaign season.

The governor’s office says the gap reported by the newspaper doesn’t take into account office staff and policy advisers from other state agencies that Kasich relies on. Counting those employees, the gap was $5.04-an-hour on average last year. Under those same parameters, the newspaper found, the gap under Strickland was $1.28-an-hour in 2010.

“The governor is proud of having a strong female chief of staff, an excellent lieutenant governor in Mary Taylor and strong, capable women in key Cabinet positions,” said Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols. “Additionally, the wage gap for state employees has dropped 20 percent on his watch.” He said the administration values diversity and will keep pushing for it.

Across state employment, the pay gap has averaged $1.09 over the past seven years and most recently was 86 cents an hour.

Kasich’s likely Democratic opponent in November, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, has a gender pay gap of $7.02 an hour between men and women in his office, according to data provided to the Daily News by FitzGerald’s office. That was higher than the offices of Ohio’s state auditor, secretary of state, treasurer and attorney general.

FitzGerald employs a staff of 25, 17 men and eight women in the office, Cuyahoga County employs a total of 4,558 workers, 57 percent of them women. Countywide, the gender pay gap is $2.29 an hour, the report said.

FitzGerald has said in campaigning against Kasich that persistent pay inequity for women hurts middle class families.

“Rather than focus on passing income tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the wealthy, our legislature needs to pass meaningful reform that will allow Ohio’s women to earn equal pay for equal work,” he said in a campaign release. “Because when women succeed, Ohio succeeds.”

The examination does not take into account men and women appointed by Kasich or FitzGerald to lead government departments, just those who work in their offices.

A comparison of 2010, the last full year Strickland held office, and 2013 also found:

_ The gender pay gap grew to $1.38 an hour under Republican Auditor Dave Yost, up from $1.05 under Republican Mary Taylor;

_ In the secretary of state’s office, the gap increased to $2.77 an hour under Republican Jon Husted, up from $2.37 under Democrat Jennifer Brunner;

_ In the treasurer’s office, the gap went up to $1.06 an hour favoring men under Republican Josh Mandel, up from a penny per hour in favor of women under Democrat Kevin Boyce;

_ The pay gap shrunk in the attorney general’s office under Republican Mike DeWine to $4.81 an hour, down from $4.94 an hour under Democrat Richard Cordray.