Prison Doctors, State Psychiatrists Among Top-Paid State Employees
Prison doctors and state psychiatrists are among the highest-paid state employees, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The Chronicle examined state payroll records and found that 5,125 state employees -- five times as many as in 1995 -- earn more than $100,000 a year. In addition, 176 state employees earned more than $165,000 annually -- the governor's salary -- and nearly all of them are staff psychiatrists and physicians at state hospitals and prisons. Of California's top 10 highest-paid state employees, five are prison physicians and state psychiatrists who make between $130,188 and $199,111 in base salaries and receive bonuses and overtime pay that boost their pay by 30% to 270% (Salladay, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/1). State mental hospitals and prisons offer health workers extra pay for overtime and shifts at night and on weekends (AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/2). Prison psychiatrists' salaries are increased further because a court order requires the Department of Corrections to keep a sufficient number of them on staff; Department of Mental Health officials said they had to offer the same benefits as the department of corrections, including retention and recruitment bonuses totaling $2,200 a month, to compete with the prison system and the private sector to retain qualified staff members to work with "difficult patients" in remote locations, the Chronicle reports. The Department of Personnel Administration wants to remove the bonus pay and reverse a promised 5% raise for DMH psychiatrists, according to representatives of a state doctors' union who are negotiating with the agency. If the state's payroll is not cut, Gov. Gray Davis (D) has said he would consider layoffs to decrease the state's $38.2 billion deficit (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.