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California governor Jerry Brown derides critics as “declinists,” but when it comes to the cost of government, he’s definitely an increasist.
As Jon Ortiz and Phillip Reese note in the Sacramento Bee, last year California paid out $1.1 billion more to state employees than the year before. The new tab comes to $16.43 billion, a full seven percent higher than in 2013. According to state data, the payroll of the Department of Corrections went up $279 million, the California Correctional Health Care Services $91 million, the California Highway Patrol $71 million, and the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection $68 million. And in the state Water Resources Control Board, Veterans Affairs, and Office of Inspector General, salaries increased between 18 and 25 percent, but these were not the largest percentage increases.
As Ortiz and Reese note, those came at Covered California, the state’s wholly owned subsidiary of Obamacare, where the payroll grew a whopping 123 percent. This huge increase comes in an arrogant and dysfunctional agency responsible for widespread misery among Californians. But in the cost-increase department, Covered California has some stiff competition. At California’s High Speed Rail Authority, the payroll grew 72 percent. This huge increase comes on a projected $68 billion “bullet train” that recently broke ground near Fresno, not the place where it is supposed to go.
Along with a bigger payroll, the number of full-time and part-time state employees is also up to about 245,000 from 242,000 in 2013. The average salary is $67,062, and as Ortiz and Reese note, “nearly one in five state employees earned $100,000 or more, a 30 percent increase from 2013. About one-quarter of the six-figure salaries went to managers and supervisors.” A full 54 state employees were paid more than $400,000, “up from 37 in 2013.”
California also maintains 3,666 job classifications including “teletype operator” and “switchboard operator,” even though the switchboard no longer exists. These classifications, explains Mr. Ortiz, “make government more expensive.” And as Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters observes, oversight of California government is spotty at best. The massive payroll boost, meanwhile, gives taxpayers more evidence that California remains unreformable.