Today, Sunshine Review released its first state government salary report, which analyzed public sector employee salaries in 152 local governments spanning eight states. Taking data from the last four years, Sunshine Review investigated benefits information as well as information on government perks like car fleets and cell phones for public sector employees in California, Pennsylvania, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Texas and Wisconsin.
Sunshine Review’s study showed that of the states analyzed, California had the largest number of public sector employees making over $150,000 with 1332 employees. Illinois followed in second with 867 and Texas is in third with 194.
California also had the highest paid public official during the last four years. Robert Rizzo, former city manager of Bell, California made $787,637 in 2008, or $1.5 million when taking other government benefits into account, the highest of any public employee surveyed since 2008. The next highest salary of the governments surveyed is the Chief Executive Officer of Health Care in Cook County, Illinois who earned $500,000 in 2011.
Looking at specific job fields, the study showed that three of the top eight salaries are related to law enforcement. These comprised of a Sheriff- Coroner in California, a Superintendent of Police in Illinois and a Detective in Wisconsin. High earners in the medical field earned more than most governors. For example, the average governor’s salary was $130,595.1 while in Jacksonville, Florida, the top salary for 2011 was $208,119.00 for an employee in the Medical Examiner’s office. Lastly, fire personnel high earners made salaries in the high $100,000s.
“Sunshine Review’s analysis clearly shows where taxpayer money goes and how much of it is allotted on salaries and government perks. This information is vital to ensuring that government remains open and accountable to the people that it represents,” said Mike Barnhart, President of Sunshine Review.
To complete this study the editors of Sunshine Review focused on the most populous cities, counties, and school districts, as well as the emergency services entities within these governments. The salary information garnered from these states was a combination of existing online resources and state Freedom of Information Act requests sent out to the governments from 2008-2011.