Judge Orders Update of Plan for Mental Health Workers
A federal judge on Monday ordered the state to submit a more comprehensive solution to address increasing staff shortages at state mental health facilities, the Los Angeles Times reports (Romney/Gold, Los Angeles Times, 4/24).
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) earlier this year ordered pay increases for psychiatrists and other care providers working at state mental health facilities to help compete with prison salaries after a court ordered steep pay increases for prison mental health workers. Under the governor's plan, Department of Mental Health psychiatrists' pay would be within 5% of salaries for prison psychiatrists, while other positions' pay would be raised within 18% of the prison rate (California Healthline, 4/23).
Lawyers representing inmates with mental illnesses said that the state plan was not sufficient and that the proposed pay increases for DMH workers were inadequate to discourage workers from leaving for similar jobs at state prisons, where pay is higher.
However, Lisa Tillman, deputy attorney general, told U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton that more state funds might be available after upcoming revisions to next year's budget that could be used to increase the pay raises for new employees, as well as existing DMH personnel.
Karlton in response issued a May 21 deadline for the state to submit a more comprehensive plan (Los Angeles Times, 4/24).