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What Are the Highest-Paid Jobs in California Government?

| August 20, 2013
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(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

State Controller John Chiang yesterday announced an update to his “Government Compensation in California” website. The database of state worker salaries is fun for the entire family, especially if the family likes to sit around complaining about how much government workers make. (A not insubstantial demographic, if recent and not-so-recent news reports are any indication.)

Chiang’s office said Monday’s update includes additional wage and benefit data for 341,475 positions, and “more than $17.5 billion in wages paid in 2012.”

Some of the things you can do on the site (exclamations added):

  • Search for compensation by region!
  • Develop charts, trend lines and trend graphs!
  • Quickly see lists of top earners in cities, counties and other local governments!

If you want to see the 10 highest-paid positions in 2012, here they are.

There has been a proliferation of government compensation databases coming online in the past several years. They seem to be popular with the public, and in fact this post is  one of our most trafficked of all time. You will probably be unsurprised to learn that government workers are ambivalent about the public release of their salary info. A 2012 survey from Governing magazine found:

Nearly 30 percent of state and local government officials say their pay should not be considered part of the public record, while half would react negatively to names and salaries posted online. Overall, the results show public employees generally favor disclosing basic compensation information, but many feel they should not be identified by name.

My favorite quote on this topic comes from former San Francisco Deputy Police Chief Charles Keohane. When asked by the Chronicle in 2010 about how he felt about his $516,118 leading all city workers in compensation one year, he said, “Not so good, if it’s going to get my name in the paper.”

The data from the state controller does not include names, just job titles. One of the more interesting tidbits: a couple of assistants to the governor make more than the governor.

The Sacramento Bee maintains a somewhat different database of government salaries that includes jobs like the head coaches at state schools. Former Cal football coach Jeff Tedford, for example, is listed at over $2.1 million in total pay for 2012.

And at 3-9, he won only a handful more games that year than Deputy Police Chief Charles Keohane.

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