Graph - CA State Payroll 2015

(Sacramento Bee research/California State Controller’s Office)

By Jon Ortiz and Phillip Reese
01/23/2015 10:53 PM

California state workers’ salaries rose a total $1.1 billion last year, according to new payroll data, while the number of state employees also grew.

The State Controller’s Office wrote paychecks for $16.43 billion in 2014, up 7 percent from the year before. The increase followed three years of essentially flat payroll costs for the state.

Meanwhile, the number of full-time and part-time state workers grew from about 242,000 to about 245,000, or almost 2 percent.

The data, which exclude state university employees and legislative staff, show the largest dollar-amount payroll increases occurred in the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (up $279 million); the prison system’s medical caregiver, California Correctional Health Care Services ($91 million); the Department of State Hospitals ($82 million); the California Highway Patrol ($71 million); and the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection ($68 million).

The numbers reflect how departments have emerged from furloughs that ended in 2013 and how pay raises negotiated with Gov. Jerry Brown have prodded payrolls upward.

Some of the increases “are due to natural growth in program areas,” Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer said Friday in an email, and may indicate that departments are filling positions left empty by a record number of retirements the last few years.

Corrections and Rehabilitation, for example, stopped recruiting cadets and closed its Galt academy as part of a 2011 program that shrank the state prison population and started sending more convicted criminals to local jails.

Now, however, the state is scrambling to restock its correctional-officer ranks after years of attrition. “We’re running as many as four academies at once,” corrections spokesman Bill Sessa said.

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