State government salary
State government salary websites do not normally post specific salaries of employees. Occasionally, the top paid employees will be published by the government, but comprehensive databases are still rare. State governments do regularly post a searchable checkbook, salary schedules and benefits information, generally. The information listed below primarily comes from alternative sites that utilize Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to petition the state to release the public salary information, and the information is then published on alternative websites.
Employee information as public records
The Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, is a federal law requiring partial or full disclosure of previously unreleased documents controlled by the government. There are 50 state sunshine laws that apply this idea to the states.
The purpose of the Act is to increase the availability of public records to citizens. Generally, as far as employee information names, sex, race, title and dates of employment for all employees and officers of public bodies are available. Additionally, most states will release records containing employee salary, with some limitations (usually minimum compensation). While most states require an individual or organization to request the salary information, some states proactively disclose a searchable salary database of all public employee salaries.
State salary sites
The following is a list of states that sponsor an employee salary portal or database and includes outside databases. For a comprehensive list of government salary resources, see State public employee salary resources.
*Information is available, but not through a government website.
State university football coach pay
Public university coaches are state employees. State schools are funded primarily by taxpayer money and tuition rates that are set by state governments. Often, university head coaches (primarily football) are the highest paid state government workers.
|Alabama||University of Alabama||$6 million|
|Texas||University of Texas||$5.1 million|
|Oklahoma||University of Oklahoma||$4.3 million|
|Louisiana||Louisiana State University||$3.9 million|
|Ohio||Ohio State||$3.9 million|
|Iowa||University of Iowa||$3.7 million|
|Wake Forest||Private Institution|
|Georgia||University of Georgia||$2.9 million|
|Arkansas||University of Arkansas||$2.7 million|
|Florida||University of Florida||$2.7 million|
State government salaries in the news
- In 2009, Illinois created the Illinois Transparency and Accountability Portal (www.accountability.illinois.gov) to record state government spending. Recently, however, the Illinois Policy Institute discovered that someone in state government removed salary information data from 2008-2009.
- Despite severe budget shortfalls in a majority of states, salaries for college football coaches at large public universities continues to rise.
- Faced with increasing push-back from the public, the media, government watchdogs and lawmakers, the Department of Justice agreed to drop a proposed regulation that would have allowed government agencies to simply tell citizens that the records they request do not exist. The “no record” response could well be untrue and misleading.
What information should be available?
Ideally, the state should develop, publish and regularly update a comprehensive database of the salary and benefit information for state government employees. Of the least importance is the name of the individual receiving compensation, but listing titles and job descriptions along with salary information is imperative. This information allows citizens to compare what individuals in their state are being paid and whether it is reasonable in relation to similar positions in other states.
By updating state government salary information in conjunction with annual budget releases or audits, third parties do not have to FOIA the information and publish it on websites that governments cannot control. Forcing the use of a middleman to publish the information is less efficient and less cost-effective.
Identity security  is a valid concern that arises from public government salaries. One option is for states to provide educational training to public employees on how to keep their identities secure. Additionally, it may also assuage concerns  to narrowly tailor pension and salary information made available online. Although arguably unnecessary, it is possible to release only the names of individuals receiving pension benefits above a certain level or assign numbers to retirees as opposed to names.
States are overwhelmingly trending towards full disclosure of benefits and salaries because the interest in state and local transparency outweighs the interest in maintaining this smidgen of privacy for government employees. Rather that attempting to conceal some aspects of personal information, a futile effort amidst public records, the emphasis should focus on how to ensure that potential wrongdoers cannot manipulate this information or their own benefit.
Identity theft is hardly rampant and certainly does not target the public employee demographic. Both state and federal law require that government offices redact all information of a “personal nature” from FOIA requests that could potentially be misused, including social security numbers or information relating to ongoing police investigations.