The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

March 29, 2012
Column Extra: Who earns more than Jerry Brown?

With just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, most of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras give you some of the notes, the quotes and the observations that inform what's published.

Our column in today's fiber/cyber Bee filters the debate over state workers' wages through Senate Bill 1368, which would cap state pay -- including overtime -- at what the governor earns, about $174,000 per year.

So we asked our state worker pay database guru, Phillip Reese, to find out how many state employees would have been affected last year if SB 1368 had been law, and what job classes dominated that pay strata. We also asked him to look at UC system employees (the latest data we have for them is for 2010) to get a sense of how many of them made more than the governor. SB 1368 wouldn't affect them, though, because the UC system is constitutionally protected, but the bill encourages its leaders to conform to the cap.

Here's Phillip's email answering my questions:

About 2,015 civil service, CSU and legislative workers earned base pay over $174,000 in 2011, state controller's data show. Another 2,560 UC employees earned that much in 2010, according to the most recent data available from the UC system. So about 4,500 total -- a number that almost doubles if you look at total pay, which includes overtime, bonuses, etc. (I know Anderson, in his bill, cited "more than 8,000 workers," which is in line with my numbers if looking at total pay, instead of just base pay.)

By far, the largest job class in this group is physicians, mostly working at UC hospitals, state prisons and state mental health facilities. About 2,100 of the 4,500 are doctors, dentists or psychiatrists. Running far behind, but with more than 200 employees making that much, are judges, senior professors and top administrators at myriad agencies.

Anderson bill would cap state worker pay at Jerry Brown's salary
Steinberg: state worker pay cap bill 'worth considering'

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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State Pay Database

This database allows you to search the salaries of California's 300,000-plus state workers and view up to four years of their pay history.


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