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California state government salary

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State Information

As of 2011, California state government salaries for public employees were 25.2% more on average than state employees in Texas, although California private sector workers made only 12.5% more than their Texas counterparts.[1]

In August 2010, State Controller John Chiang announced he would require new reporting by cities and counties to clearly identify salaries of public employees and elected officials. That information was scheduled to be posted on the Controller's website in November 2010.[2]

According to U.S. Census data, the state of California and local governments in the state employed a total of 2,256,634 people in 2008. Of those employees, 1,584,459 were full-time employees receiving net wages of $9,043,021,107 per month and 672,175 were part-time employees paid $969,357,807 per month. More than 55% of those employees, or 1,257,074 employees, were in education or higher education.[3]

Hiring has slowed. In 2010, the number of new state hires roughly equaled the number of employees who retired. In 2011, however, for every worker that was hired into a job with benefits, two retired. Many workers were hired for part-time work without benefits.[4]

According to a state report, three hospital district executives emerged as among the highest-paid public employees in California, including an official in San Diego County who made more than $1 million in 2009. The salary survey came after public outrage over the high compensation of some city officials, including former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo, who was set to earn more than $1.5 million in 2010 (The Los Angeles Times also found that Vernon's one-time city administrator, Eric T. Fresch, earned $1.65 million in 2008). Hospital officials and their advocates argued that it's important to put the salaries of the hospital directors in context, given the complexity of their jobs and the fact that they are in great demand in the private sector.[5]

Legislator salaries

See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2010, California state legislators made $95,291 per year. As of 2012, legislators also received a per diem of $141.86 per day, plus mileage, tied to the federal rate.[6][7]

The California Citizens Compensation Commission decided not to cut benefits, car allowances or the legislative per diem payments of about $30,000 annually that offset living expenses in 2010. Commissioner Kathy Sands had proposed a 10% pay cut, but shelved her proposal when the FY2011 budget was not passed by the deadline of June 15, 2010, explaining that she did not want to act without knowing the ramifications of a budget to cure the state's projected $19.1 billion deficit. She wanted to keep the legislative pay cut similar to the cuts faced by state workers after the FY2011 budget was passed.[8]

A state panel in late May 2012 approved a 5% pay cut for lawmakers and statewide elected officials, including Gov. Jerry Brown. The California Citizens Compensation Commission, which sets pay and health benefits for those offices, voted 5-1 in favor of the cuts that were set to take effect on December 3, 2012.[9]

Lawsuit against pay cuts

Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) filed a claim against the state on behalf of all state legislators to try and overrule the pay cuts from 2009 by the Citizens Compensation Commission. She alleged that the 18% cut in pay and benefits was illegal.[10]

State executive salaries

See also: Compensation of state executive officers

According to California's Department of Personnel Administration, California's governor received an annual salary of $212,179, while legislators received an annual salary of $116,208 for the years 2007 to 2009.[11]

'State government employee salaries[12]
Office '10 salary Official
Governor $173,987[13] Jerry Brown
Lieutenant Governor $130,490 Gavin Newsom
Secretary of State $130,490 Debra Bowen
Attorney General $151,127 Kamala Harris
Treasurer $139,189 Bill Lockyer

As of 2010, the salary of California's governor ranked 1st among U.S. governors' salaries. The average salary earned by U.S. governors was $128,735. The median salary earned by U.S. governors was $129,962. In 2010, the salary was reduced to $173,987.[8]

Judicial salaries

See also: State court budgets and judicial salaries
California judicial salaries[14]
Position '09 salary Justice
Chief Justice $228,856 Tani Cantil-Sakauye
Associate Justice $218,237 Goodwin Liu
Associate Justice $218,237 Joyce Kennard
Associate Justice $218,237 Kathryn Ming Chin
Associate Justice $218,237 Marvin Baxter
Associate Justice $218,237 Carol Corrigan
Associate Justice $218,237 Kathryn Mickle Werdegar

As of 2010, the salary of California's chief justice ranked 1st among U.S. chief justices' salaries. The average salary earned by U.S. chief justices was $155,230. The median salary earned by U.S. chief justices was $151,284.[14]

As of 2010, the salary of California's associate justices ranked 1st among U.S. associate justices' salaries. The average salary earned by U.S. associate justices was $151,142. The median salary earned by U.S. associate justices was $145,984.[14]

Average state employee starting salary

The state's median starting base pay in 2011 was $2,280 per month, or $27,360 per year. Despite large cuts to the state budget, legislators handed out raises to 1,000 employees who worked in the legislature in July 2012. While some of the employees hadn't received a raise in three years, more than 110 of the 1,090 raises awarded went to legislative employees who were making salaries above $100,000. The raises ranged from 3% and 10%.[4][15]

Teacher salaries

California teacher salaries are determined at the district level. Teacher salary is determined by a number of factors, including an area’s cost of living, district funding and the number of experienced teachers working in the district. An individual teacher’s salary is generally based on college units completed and years of teaching experience. Across the state, starting teacher salaries are considerably lower than district average salaries.[16]

Teacher salaries[17]
Beginning teacher salary Average salary
$41,181 $68,093

The number of teachers earning raises increased by 76%, from 3,010 in 2009 to 5,308 in 2010.[18]

California educators participate in the California State Teachers Retirement System and have an average annual retirement benefit of $51,072.[19].

Union negotiations

In 2010, the SEIU approved a contract which would reduce pay for 95,000 public employees in California by 5%. The deal was struck in order to secure pensions for its members. The union also agreed to increase member contributions to their pensions by 3%, which was less than the 4% to 5% Gov. Schwarzenegger had negotiated with other unions. The union's concessions were expected to save the state $383 million.[20]

Public versus private employees

A 2011 report compiled by the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility compared public and private employee compensation and retirement benefits in California. According to the study, public employees often received benefits two or three times greater than benefits in the private sector. The study also concluded that salary figures in the public sphere were similar or slightly higher than those in the private sector for comparable work. Based on the findings, employers typically spent less than 1/3 of what state taxpayers spent on employee pensions and retiree health benefits. Case in point: “A state employee earning $60,000 annually will accumulate pension and retiree health benefits valued at $19,000 a year. A comparably paid employee of a large California company will receive retirement benefits worth less than $6,000.”[21]

According to the report, workers in local government jobs typically had higher salaries and benefits than state government and private sector employees.

Local government employees

See also: California local government salary

In 2011, Sunshine Review requested salary information from 19 local governments in the state.

Transparency reform

Several officials have come forward to demand greater transparency as a result of the Bell City controversy. In 2010, State Controller John Chiang expanded salary reporting requirements so that all cities and counties would have to report salaries to his office by October 15, with information slated to be posted on the Controller's website in November.[22] Chiang followed through on his promise and posted 742 employee salaries for 26 agencies. The database lists the salary range, the salary paid in 2009, the type of pension package, and the amount agencies pay per employee for health, dental and vision insurance.[23]

Treasurer Bill Lockyer proposed new auditing rules that would require reporting large pay increases that affect pension benefits.[24] Both of the officials have roles in CalPERS, California's retirement system, who knew about the salaries since 2006.[24]

Attorney General and then-gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown also called for an investigation into the situation.[24] Others, like Brian Call with the OC Register, suggested that full-time Mayors, who depend on elections, would also be better than city managers.[24]

Sen. Lou Correa proposed the Taxpayer Right to Know Act, which would create database of public employee pay.[25] The League of California Cities was also drafting legislation to proactively disclose salary and pension information for local employees.[26] The League of California Cities insisted that for the transparency effort to work the legislation must encourage citizen engagement, transparency and local control.[26] One bill proposed would not only reveal municipal employee salaries, but those at the state level, too.[27] As a result, senators were shying away from the legislation and instead considered requiring the salary disclosure via an internal rule in the Senate.[27]

Then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed AB827, which would have restricted city manager pay in reaction the Bell scandal. One measure of the bill would have forbade employment contracts guaranteeing city managers annual salary increases that exceed the cost of living.[28] Schwarzenegger said the bill was vetoed because it did not go far enough, and only applied to city manager pay and not other public officials.[29]



Dental insurance and vision insurance are available to nearly all permanent employees who work the equivalent of half-time or more.[30][31]

Excluded employees in permanent positions working at least half-time are eligible to enroll in the long-term disability insurance program.[32] Premiums are calculated based on the employee's age.[33]

Employees are also offered long-term care insurance.[34]


State employees receive the following 10 paid holidays:[35]

  • New Year's Day
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • President's Day
  • Caesar Chavez Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Veteran's Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Day after Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Day

Personal days

In addition, permanent employees are entitled to one personal holiday per year.[36]

Vacation time

Rank-and-file employees accrue 7-15 hours of vacation time per month, depending on length of service and bargaining unit. Managers and supervisors accrue 7-16 hours of vacation time per month, depending on length of service. State employees may carry over up to 640 hours of unused vacation to the next year.[37]

Sick leave

Regarding sick leave, full-time employees who have completed their first month on the job accrue eight hours of sick leave per month. Unused sick leave may be carried over each year.

Other leave

Most permanent, full-time state employees are eligible to receive an additional day of leave credit per month in exchange for a 5% reduction in pay. The state claims that the voluntary program helps employees who want to accrue extra time off and helps the state's departments lower payroll costs.

Employees may receive up to three days of leave following the death of a family member or other person in the employee's household.

State employees on military leave can receive the difference between their military pay and their state pay and maintain their benefits.[38]

Employees mentoring at-risk youth through a bona fide organization qualify for up to 40 hours of leave per year on a matching basis.

Employees on jury duty are granted leave time.


See also: California public pensions

In June 2010, then-Governor Schwarzenegger bargained with the 12 public employee unions. Four of the unions agreed to let the state cut its own contributions by requiring current workers to pay sharply more for the same pensions. Workers will contribute 10% of their pay, in some cases double the previous rate, to the state pension fund.[39]

Pew Charitable Trusts has reported that the CalPERS pension system has $59.5 billion in unfunded retirement promises, but the Government Accountability Office has said it is $62.5 billion.[40] Another Stanford University study indicated that pensions were underfunded by as much as $500 billion based on standard accounting practices.[40]

Proposition B

Sustainable City Employees Benefits Reform would have required police, firefighters and other city employees covered by CalPERS to contribute 10% to their pensions.[41] These employees had contributed either 7.5% or 9%, depending on when they were hired. The maximum amount that could have come out of an individual worker's paycheck toward his or her pension contribution would have been 2.5%.[42]

Other city employees, who were contributing 7.5%, would contribute 9%. Muni workers, who had been contributing nothing, would have had to start paying into the system as other city workers do, under the Adachi proposal.[43] The initiative would have also required city employees to pay for 50%, rather than 25%, of their family's health care coverage. The proposition gathered 77,000 signatures and qualified for the November 2010 ballot.

Several city employee labor unions filed a lawsuit against the proposition. Participants in the suit included: San Francisco Fire Fighters, Local 798, International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers, Local 21, Service Employees International Union, Local 1021, the San Francisco Municipal Executives’ Association, and the San Francisco Police Officers Association.[44]

Other benefits

The Savings Plus Program offers a 401(k) Plan and a 457 Plan to eligible State of California employees. These plans allow employees to build retirement savings accounts using automatic payroll deductions.

The FlexElect Reimbursement Accounts program lets state employees set aside money in a reimbursement account to pay for certain expenses.

The Employee Assistance Plan offers assistance with

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Drug abuse
  • Marital and family issues
  • Emotional, personal and stress Concerns
  • Financial and credit issues[45]

See also

External links


  1. Businessweek "California, Texas, and State Workers' Pay" April 28, 2011
  2. Article on CA local/city online transparency.
  3. 2008 California Public Employment U.S. Census Data
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Sacramento Bee ""California government hiring slowed in 2011" April 9, 2012 (dead link)
  5. LA Hospital executives occupy top tier of California's public workers, March 29, 2011
  6. National Conference of State Legislators 2010 Legislator Compensation Data
  7. NCSL, 2012 Compensation Data," accessed June12, 2012
  8. 8.0 8.1 The Sacramento Bee "California's late budget plays role in killing pay cut for officeholders" June 17, 2010 (dead link)
  9. Panel cuts pay of California governor, lawmakers, Sacramento Bee, May 31, 2012 (dead link)
  10. LA Times, Pay cuts for state legislators challenged again, Dec. 7, 2010
  11. Department of Personnel Administration, "Salaries of Elected Officials between 3 December 2007 and 4 December 2009"
  12. ‘‘The Council of State Governments,’’ “The Book of the States: 2010” as of Jan. 1, 2010
  13. The Council of State Governments The Book of States 2010 Table 4.3
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 The National Center for State Courts, "Judicial Salary Resource Center" as of Jan. 1, 2010
  15. San Francisco Chronicle, Calif. lawmakers hand out pay raises amid cuts, July 23, 2012
  16. USC, Teaching Salary in California
  17. [2011-01-01T00%3A00%3A00Z%20TO%202012-01-01T00%3A00%3A00Z
  18. OC Register, Number of $100,000 retirees skyrocket in teacher pension system, Feb. 11, 2011
  19. Intercept, Retired Teachers in California Earn More Than Working Teachers in 28 States, March 29, 2011
  20. New York Times, Largest Calif. Employee Union OKs Pension Changes, Nov. 9, 2010
  21. California County News, Study Compares Public/Private Employee Salaries & Benefits; Says Costs Inflate Local Budgets, May 5, 2011
  22. Sacramento Bee, Chiang orders California cities and counties to report salaries, Aug. 3, 2010
  23. The Sun, State controller posts salaries for local workers, Feb. 1, 2011
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 OC Register, Brian Calle: After Bell's toll, what's next?, Aug. 6, 2010
  25. OC Register, Lou Correa, Brandman and the ‘Taxpayer Right to Know Act’, Aug. 5, 2010
  26. 26.0 26.1 Daily News, Christopher McKenzie: Three keys to ensure more transparent city governments, Aug 8, 2010
  27. 27.0 27.1 LA Times, Government transparency and salaries, Aug. 31, 2010
  28. Cal Watch, NEW: Arnold Goes Soft On Pay Scandal, Oct. 1, 2010
  29. LA Times, Reforms inspired by Bell salary scandal stalled in Sacramento, Oct. 3, 2010
  30. Vision Benefits
  31. Dental Benefits
  32. Long Term Disability Insurance
  33. Long-term Disability Insurance Premiums
  34. Long-term Care Insurance
  35. California Leave Benefits - State Holidays
  36. California Leave Benefits - State Holidays
  37. California Leave Benefits - Vacation
  38. Military Leave
  39. The New York Times "In Budget Crisis, States Take Aim at Pension Costs" June 19, 2010
  40. 40.0 40.1 Watchdog, Pension debt rings Bell in pay scandal,July 28, 2010
  41. "Local ballot measure campaigns reach the finish line," July 6, 2010
  42. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named diaz
  43. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named oppo
  44. Cal Watchdog, Unions sue to stop pension reform, Aug. 12, 2010
  45. Employee Assistance Plan