Monday, June 30, 2008

Budget Crisis in California?

Every once in awhile the San Francisco Chronicle does a good investigative piece. Could this have something to do with the budget crisis in California?

(06-29) 20:24 PDT -- A nurse at a state prison in Monterey County collected $198,000 in overtime last year - bringing her total pay to more than $310,000.

The chief investment officer for the state's pension system earned $403,000 in bonuses - for a total paycheck of $945,000.

<< Find state workers' overtime and other extra pay >>

And a deputy chief for the California Highway Patrol collected a lump-sum payout of $103,000, even though she retired almost two years ago and didn't collect a cent of regular pay last year, according to a Chronicle analysis of state workers' pay.

The extra pay is among $2.1 billion given to state employees in 2007 - including overtime, bonuses, premium pay, relocation allowances and lump-sum payouts.

Pushed upward by a surge in overtime, these payouts are helping to drive up the state's costs at a time when California is facing a $17.2 billion budget deficit.

"There's a lot of unaccountability around these types of extra pay," said Christina Lokke of the nonpartisan government watchdog group California Common Cause. "Who is making the decisions about who gets this money? Why are certain people getting these benefits that others don't get? Many of these things seem to be decided under a veil of secrecy."

The extra pay pushed the total earnings of 616 of the state's 364,000 employees to more than the $212,000 Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would make if he accepted his annual paycheck. That included 274 psychiatrists, 48 investment officers, 23 prison guards, 18 nurses and three fire battalion chiefs.

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