America’s Great State Pay Give-Away

Photograph by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

An inmate at a prison in Chino, California.

Think you’re in the wrong line of work?

Try becoming a state worker in California, where it’s possible to collect more than $200,000 in overtime pay in a single year or retire with a “boat check” as large as $609,000 for unused vacation and leave time.

Those are two of the findings of a six-part Bloomberg series starting today that examines public-employee compensation in the 12 largest states. The series begs the question: Why do workers in the same kinds of jobs get paid much so more in some states than in others?

From coast to coast, the highest-paid state workers collected total compensation of as much as $573,000 to $1 million last year, even as governors and lawmakers slashed funding for schools, public safety and other services, the Bloomberg series shows.

Leading the way in almost every job and pay category was California, where a state psychiatrist was paid $822,000 last year, a highway patrol officer collected $484,000 in pay and pension benefits and 17 employees got checks of more than $200,000 for unused vacation and leave.

See the full report on “America’s Great State Payroll Giveaway” at


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