Prison Medical Workers Among Highest Paid State Employees
More than 1,400 state workers in California were paid more than $200,000 in 2010, according to data that state Controller John Chiang (D) posted to his website on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times reports. Most of the employees receiving the high salaries worked in health care (Dolan, Los Angeles Times, 7/6).
Chiang's office began requesting public worker compensation data after a salary scandal involving the city of Bell. In March, Bell residents voted to oust the entire city council after learning that elected officials were awarding themselves excessive pensions and salaries
About the Data
Hallye Jordan, spokesperson for Chiang, said the data show salary ranges and actual compensation earned last year, including bonuses, overtime and vacation or sick leave that was cashed in (Thompson, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 7/5).
Chiang's database does not provide the names of the employees, but it lists state positions by title and allows users to sort the data by department, salary range and total wages.
The controller's data show that 790 of the 1,400 state employees who received more than $200,000 were prison physicians, nurses or dentists.
More than 300 of the other highly paid workers were psychiatrists or other health care professionals working for the Department of Mental Health (Los Angeles Times, 7/6).
The top earner on Chiang's list was a prison surgeon who received $777,423 last year, before taxes. Other notable compensation packages included:
- $561,072 in total wages for the chief risk officer of the State Compensation Insurance Fund (Lagos, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/6);
- $548,142 for the chief investment officer of CalPERS (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 7/5); and
- $482,234 for the president of the state's stem cell research agency (Los Angeles Times, 7/6).
Prison Official Responds
Nancy Kincaid -- spokesperson for federal prison health care receiver J. Clark Kelso -- said some of the larger compensation packages likely went to prison medical workers who received large retirement payouts to account for unused vacation time. She noted that higher salaries for prison health workers have helped ease understaffing problems, allowing workers to take more time off. "So, in the future, you shouldn't see such large payouts," she said (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/6).
Kincaid also noted that prisons "are not easy places to work; the salaries had to be competitive" (Los Angeles Times, 7/6).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.