State Nurse Injects $269,810 Income
Now this is sick.
Jean Keller earned $269,810 last year working as a nurse at a men’s prison on California’s central coast by tripling her regular pay with overtime hours.
Keller got more overtime in 2010 than any other state employee. In all, California’s public workers collected $1.7 billion of extra pay last year, more than half of it in overtime, state payroll data show. The rest was for unused vacation and union-negotiated benefits such as clothing allowances, physical-fitness incentives and special compensation in recognition of a “complex work load.”
“It’s outrageous,” said 29-year-old Gilbert Ramirez, one of about 30,000 teachers fired in California since 2007 because of budget cuts. “It boils my blood that I’m out of work and they claim they don’t have enough money to pay me.”
California paid the additional wages — enough to fund the average salaries of about 25,000 teachers – as it faced a $19 billion deficit and cut school spending and services for poor children and the elderly. The state may have to trim the academic year by seven days and eliminate some student busing if revenue shortfalls persist.
The extra compensation underscores a broader trend in California, where government workers are paid more than in other states for similar duties. Among them: city managers whose pay is higher than the governor’s, prison doctors who make more than counterparts in other states and Los Angeles firefighters who collect twice the national mean.
No wonder California’s prisons cost twice as much to run as those in other states.
Nurse Keller’s $269,810 income means higher taxes for taxpayers. It also means less money to hire more nurses to care for the patients.
And it means less money to reduce prison overcrowding so severe it provoked the intervention of a federal judge.
Nurse Keller needs to reacquaint herself with the Florence Nightingale Pledge that nurses take, especially the part about, “I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous….”
Oct. 26, 2011
June 19, 2013