As California grapples with its lagging budget and prospective initiatives on the California ballot to raise taxes, Bloomberg News reports that 42 California state nurses were paid $1 million each over a six-year period.
Cited in the study by Bloomberg is Lina Manglicmot who has been paid $1.5 million since 2005, an average of $253,530 a year, to work as a prison nurse in the farming community of Soledad in Monterey County. Soledad, whose Spanish translation is “solitude”, is located 25 miles from Salinas with a population of 25,738 according to the 2010 census.
Nurse Manglicmot is one of 42 state nurses who brought in more than $1 million in six years, mostly through overtime work, according to payroll data compiled by Bloomberg News. The total price tag for the 42 nurses was $47.5 million. Extra pay earned through overtime compensation triples the amount they would generally earn through their regular compensation. Unions representing the nurses have urged state prisons and mental health facilities to limit the use of overtime through more effective scheduling.
California’s nurses earn more than other large states like Texas and New York and far more than the national average of $67,720. Job protections accorded to civil servants through the legislative and collective bargaining process in California have hampered efforts to close budget gaps.
As Governor Jerry Brown prepares for his State of the State address in January, state financial gurus indicate that revenue has once again fallen short of expectations, triggering $1 billion in cuts to school programs and elder, child, and disability care.
It’s no wonder that as California continues its trend with public employees, where government workers are paid more than in other states for performing like duties, the only remedy the Governor has proposed is an initiative to raise taxes. The Governor and union allies plan to organize to gather signatures to place the five-year tax increase — a combined half-cent sales tax and a series of higher rates on individual filers reporting $250,000 or more a year — on the November 2012 ballot.
Californians can only hope for 2012 that the “top two” and redistricting measures will help bring moderation to the legislature and help to solve problems more effectively. Until then, it’s possible that all the Governor has in his arsenal is a hammer if he can’t streamline government and curb spending on duplicative staffing and programs.
Read more on the Bloomberg study here.