The state of Hawaii’s single biggest expense is paying its employees.
The state general fund is spending close to $2 billion on salaries alone this year. That represents almost 35 percent of the general-fund portion of the budget, which is filled by taxes. If you include employee pension contributions, and employee and retiree health benefits, almost 58 percent of the general fund budget is spent on payroll expenses.
As part of our annual evaluation of how the state spends its single biggest pot of money — salaries and benefits for employees, we’ve filed requests under Hawaii’s open records law asking for the names, positions and salaries of all state employees.
We’ve also made the same requests of the Hawaii Department of Education, University of Hawaii, Hawaii Health Systems Corp., the Hawaii Judiciary and the Legislature, as well the City and County of Honolulu.
This is just one of our many efforts to make more transparent how government works, to help make it possible for citizens to evaluate where money is spent and whether it’s spent wisely.
The information we are sharing is public, by law. But the government doesn’t make it easy to access. We’ve done that work for you. (Read an article explaining our view on the importance of public access to such data and an article exploring practices in other states.)
We’re updating this series every year or as new salary increases and union contracts kick in.
The Hawaii Legislature: Hawaii lawmakers aren’t making any more money this year, thanks to a self-imposed pay cut.
Hawaii State Salaries: Fewer Employees, Higher Costs: While there are fewer employees in state government, the state is spending more taxpayer money on salaries and retirement benefits this year as a result of ending twice-monthly furloughs on July 1. The database covers 44,747 workers.
Hawaii State Salaries: Highest Paid: Mental health services. Medicaid. Military. Tourism. Employees in those areas represent the 10 highest-paid people in Hawaii state government.
Department of Education: The 22,009 employees fill 153 unique positions within the department, from teachers and principals and speech pathologists and school psychologists.
Hawaii Judiciary: Hawaii’s state judges are among the lowest paid in the nation — and their salaries won’t be improving anytime soon given legislative pay cuts that have been extended through the end of 2013.
Here’s a list of stories we published covering 2011 fiscal year salaries: