It’s Sunshine Week in California!

Yes, it’s always sunny in California (at least that’s what we tell ourselves), why do we need a special week to celebrate?  Because the sunshine we’re talking about may stream down from the sky every day, but sometimes doesn’t seem to quite make it into the nooks and crannies of government. 

Illuminating some of the darker cracks and crevices of government is what we do here at Transparent California.  We’ve been doing that for over a decade – with your help and support – and hope to continue doing that for as long as you think it’s necessary.

We know one of the darker corners of government is spending practices.  And that niche can be particularly dark when spending benefits themselves, public employees, not the People of the state, local communities, school districts, etc.  Not an insignificant thing, given there is no larger expenditure of public funds in our state than pay and benefits for employees.

That’s where we fit in.  We do our work so that you can see where your money is going.  Who is being paid using your tax dollars, and how much?

Transparent California has over 37 million compensation and pension payment records on line, totaling $2.3 trillion dollars in tax dollar spending.  All obtained directly from actual records of the state and local agencies involved, using the California Public Records Act.

And that database is growing daily.

Supported by the generous donations of the public, we’re now wrapping up our effort to obtain full 2021 data and starting to shift to 2022 collection.  But first, before we move on to a new year of data collection, some stats for you from that data.

In 2022, Transparent California gathered 2.6 million compensation records reflecting payments to public employees being paid by almost 2300 agencies, totaling $220 billion dollars.   We also gathered pension records from 56 agencies who provided 1.4 million recipients with a total of $59 billion in benefit payouts.

If we dig a little deeper and look at the data itself, we see some interesting things.

Did you know 982,701 public employees receive total compensation over $100,000/year from our government agencies?  80,206 of these are above $250K, and 3,047 over $500K.  171 received over a million dollars.

From 2020 to 2021, the average total pay and benefits has risen from $120,892 to $126,688, an increase of 4.8%.  From 2012 through 2021, the average growth rate has been 4.64%.  During that time, according to the state’s Department of Industrial Relations, inflation has averaged 2.5%, meaning our public employees have been seeing their compensation rise almost twice as fast as inflation.

The top paid public employee?  Charles Kelly, Head Coach in the UC system, whose total compensation in 2021 was $5,775,150.

The first non-sports highly paid employee is Jason Roostaeian, listed as a “Hs Assoc Clin Prof-Hcomp” in the UC system, with total compensation of $3,426,298.

If you’d like to review the full list of public employee compensation, you can do that here.   

We strongly recommend you sit down before clicking, and if you suffer from any heart conditions you may want to consult your doctor first.  We don’t want anyone hurt!

Highest paid City Manager?  William Rawlings, City Manager of Artesia, whose total compensation for the year was $674,504.13

Highest paid public safety employee?  Marc Coopwood, Assistant Chief of Police of the City of Beverly Hills, with $864,903.40.

Highest paid K-12 school superintendent?  James Hammond, Superintendent of the Ontario-Montclair School District, a district where 87.76% of families qualified for free and reduced lunch last year.  Mr.  Hammond, who has taken the top spot for a number of years, made total compensation of $743,596.

Now, we’re sure these employees are great people.  Likely they’re very good at what they do.  We publish these numbers simply because when we’re paying people this much to do their jobs, we feel it’s important that the people who provide the tax dollars to do that are aware of this and can make that judgement with full knowledge and transparency.

When your government comes to you and tells you the reason they can’t provide the people with programs and services that we feel are essential “because there isn’t enough tax revenue” to do that, how can the people make an educated decision on whether that is true if they don’t know how the existing tax revenue is being spent?

Be informed!  Take a look at your local government agencies.  If you want to stay in touch with your “favorites”, visit our website, find agencies you’re interested in, and click “subscribe to this agency.”  You’ll be notified by email when new data is posted.

And if you really think we’re providing a useful service, help support that by donating a few dollars to the effort.  All of this is done by a small group of part-time workers, any donations to help the pizza and coffee fund is appreciated.

Thanks, and let’s make sure we open up the curtains and keep that wonderful California sunshine streaming in!

Categories: Blog