Schwarzenegger Orders Pay Jump at State Mental Hospitals
The state will raise pay for psychiatrists and other care providers working at state mental health facilities to help compete with state prisons for mental health personnel, the Sacramento Bee reports (Furillo, Sacramento Bee, 3/22).
Department of Mental Health Director Stephen Mayberg on Wednesday announced Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) order for the pay increase, saying that pay for DMH psychiatrists will be within 5% of salaries for prison psychiatrists and that other positions' pay will be raised within 18% of the prison rate (Romney/Gold, Los Angeles Times, 3/22).
H.D. Palmer, a spokesperson for the Department of Finance, said the raises would take effect April 1.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton in late 2006 ordered steep pay increases for prison psychiatrists as part of an ongoing class-action lawsuit involving prison mental health care (Sacramento Bee, 3/22). Karlton recently ordered the state to raise pay for DMH workers or present an alternative proposal in court by April 6.
DMH is subject to terms of the class-action lawsuit because some state mental hospitals provide services for state prison inmates (Los Angeles Times, 3/22).
After the prison pay increases took effect, DMH psychiatrists were paid more than $100,000 less than prison psychiatrists. The pay differential led many mental health care providers to seek employment in state prisons, a trend that pushed staff vacancy rates at state mental hospitals to about 43%, Mayberg said (Sacramento Bee, 3/22).
Michael Lisiak, a psychiatrist and union steward at Atascadero State Hospital, is calling for the judge to reject the proposal, saying that pay parity is needed to correct the situation (Los Angeles Times, 3/22).
The pay increases will amount to about $43 million over two years.
Palmer said that about $9 million will be absorbed in the current fiscal year and that the governor will request $34 million in additional funds for psychiatric wages in the fiscal year 2007-2008 budget (Sacramento Bee, 3/22).