California’s state payroll – excluding its universities – grew by more than $1 billion last year, twice the rate of growth as the previous year, according to new figures from the State Controller’s Office.
The 6 percent growth rate was not unexpected. More than half of the state’s workforce voted on labor agreements early last year that included substantial pay raises. Money for the raises was included in the 2017-18 state budget.
The largest contract, for Service Employees Union Local 1000, included one-time bonuses of $2,500 for more than 95,000 state workers. That’s worth more than $235 million in total compensation for employees the union represents.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation saw payroll increase by $452 million, or 9 percent. The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection logged an $87 million, or 13 percent, increase in payroll as the state experienced a horrible wildfire season.
The Sacramento Bee’s state worker pay database has been updated with more than 250,000 civil service and California State University salaries for 2017. To search all state employee salaries, visit sacbee.com/statepay.
The number of state employees outside of universities earning more than $300,000 increased from 456 in 2016 to 709 in 2017, a rise of 56 percent. Those employees, however, still make up only a sliver of the state’s workforce.
Most of the highest-paid state workers outside of universities are doctors and dentists in the state prison system. The union for those doctors negotiated a pay hike of up to 24 percent over the next four years early last year. Prison health officials cited the difficulty of filling vacancies as a justification for the contract.
The highest-paid state worker outside of universities remains Ted Eliopoulos, chief investment officer of CalPERS. He earned about $867,000 last year, up from $768,000 in 2016.
CalPERS saw an 11.2 percent return on its investments in fiscal year 2017. That came as stock markets soared, with the S&P 500 increasing by 15.2 percent over the same period.
The state’s payroll fell during the recession a decade ago before stabilizing around 2012. It has risen since then.
Adjusted for inflation, California’s state payroll excluding universities was about 5 percent higher in 2017 than during 2008. The state’s population has grown about 9 percent over that period.