Corrections employees top state in salaries
Mediha Fejzagic DiMartino and Ryan Hagen, Staff Writers
Created: 07/05/2011 09:12:39 PM PDT

Figures released by the state controller on Tuesday show that highest-paid state employees work for Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The top local salary went to a former psychiatrist at the California Institution for Women in Chino who was paid $469,259 in 2010, the 13th highest salary.

Topping controller John Chiang’s list was a surgeon at a prison in Susanville who received $777,000 last year.

“At a time of budget shortage, these figures will strike a lot of people as excessive,” said Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College. “Even at half the amount, it’s a lot more than most Californians make.”

The figures were part of salary data for 256,222 state employees as well as 123,406 California State University employees posted Tuesday on Chiang’s website.

They also show minimum and maximum salary ranges, the applicable retirement formula, any contributions by the employer to the employee’s share of pension costs or health, vision and dental premium benefits, Chiang’s spokesman Jacob Roper said.

“When you work in the public sector, you are going to a job with service on your mind not the money,” said Renford Reese, a political science professor at Cal Poly Pomona.

“People making that kind of money are exploiting an inefficient and dysfunctional system.”

But actual wages listed may also include bonuses, salary advances, overtime or cashed-out unused leave hours.

“The $777,000 figure included back pay awarded to that person,” said Nancy Kincaid, a spokeswoman for the federal court-appointed receiver, Clark Kelso, who oversees medical care in California prisons.

“Most of these people have worked for the state for decades. It’s very hard to recruit for those high desert areas so they never took vacation, no personal time off and it just accumulated.

“We’ve increased the salaries and now they are competitive with the private industry, and we are filling those vacancies.”

Regular salary for CIW psychologist pays just under $300,000, institution’s spokesman Felix Figueroa said. The $469,259 included vacation time that the employee cashed out upon leaving the state service.

Compensation for employees of the California State University system is lower than at many other universities, information from the controller’s office reveals.

Cal State San Bernardino President Al Karnig is one of the highest compensated, according to the list, with $337,215 in wages. Only five presidents in the 23-campus Cal State system – as well as the system’s chancellor – earn more than he does.

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