Many Doctors Included on List of Highest-Paid State Workers
Almost 2,000 state employees, including more than 600 state doctors, earned more than $132,000 last year, according to data from the Office of the Comptroller that the San Francisco Chronicle obtained. According to the Chronicle, 359 psychiatrists, most of whom work in prisons or mental hospitals, are included on the list.
Payment to the 2,000 employees increased by 5% from 2002 to 2004. Overall, the average state employee -- including part-time workers -- earned about $42,400 in 2004, an 8% increase from 2002, according to the data.
The list excludes employees of the University of California.
In addition to pay increases, state workers received additional compensation for working overtime. Working extra shifts is common in "hard-to-fill jobs," such as nursing, working with prisoners or caring for patients with mental illnesses, the Chronicle reports.
The state prison system also is required by court order to pay psychiatrists "significant recruiting and retention bonuses" to maintain sufficient staffing levels in prisons, according to the Chronicle. Department of Mental Health officials said they offer bonuses to help attract qualified doctors (Wallack , San Francisco Chronicle, 6/21).
In 2004, at least 69 state employees -- including 31 nurses in state prisons and mental hospitals -- more than doubled their salaries by working overtime. DMH allows psychiatrists to earn money by working additional shifts in a second position, but the department does not classify the payment as overtime (Wallack , San Francisco Chronicle, 6/21).
Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said, "Whenever you see such significant increases in such a short amount of time, it is a red flag. It would seem to us that the state bears a heavy burden of proof to justify the compensation, which I am not sure they have done" (Wallack , San Francisco Chronicle, 6/21).
Lynelle Jolley, a spokesperson for the Department of Personnel Administration, said many agencies have no other alternative than to pay overtime because they are required to have adequate medical personnel on duty at all hours (Wallack , San Francisco Chronicle, 6/21).