Many are prison doctors, dentists or nurses. Total compensation can be pushed higher by payouts for unused vacation and sick time. Last year, a prison doctor collected $777,423 and a dentist got $599,403.

By Jack Dolan, Los Angeles Times
July 6, 2011

Reporting from Sacramento — More than 1,400 state employees were paid in excess of $200,000 last year, according to compensation data made public for the first time Tuesday on Controller John Chiang’s website.

Of those, 790 were prison doctors, dentists or nurses. More than 300 others were psychiatrists and other medical professionals working for the Department of Mental Health.

One prison doctor collected $777,423 in 2010 and a dentist took home $599,403, according to the website. The president of the state’s stem cell research agency received $482,234.

The database lists state positions by title and allows users to sort by department, salary range and total wages.

Chiang, a Democrat who has received millions in campaign contributions from state employee unions, did not include workers’ names even though that information is public and has been provided upon request for years.

In October, in response to the salary scandals in Bell, Chiang collected and published payroll information from California counties and cities. His staff left names out then because “it wasn’t our data, [and] couldn’t be verified or scrubbed for confidential information,” said Jacob Roper, a spokesman for the controller.

Chiang followed the same template in posting the state payroll. Roper denied that the identities of employees were left out to avoid upsetting the politically powerful employee unions.

The omission frustrated open-government advocates who say taxpayers have a right to see exactly where their money is going.

“The name, the position and the amount of money being paid to public employees should not be concealed,” said Robert Fellmeth, executive director of the Center for Public Interest Law at the University of San Diego.

Total compensation for many of the best-paid state jobs on Chiang’s list was pushed higher — in some cases more than doubled — by six-figure payouts for unused vacation and sick time.

A May analysis by The Times of Chiang’s database — a version obtained by request, which contained employee names and greater detail on payouts — showed a prison psychiatrist, Fong Lai, received $594,976 for more than 2 1/2 years worth of unused sick time. A prison dentist, Robert Stogsdill, got a $553,253 payout.

Managers of state agencies are supposed cap at 80 days the amount of unused vacation time their employees can save but routinely ignore the limit, The Times found.

In all, 309 state employees got lump payments in excess of $100,000 in 2010, the data show.

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