Hawaii taxpayers paid Malcolm Stanton Michels $291,720 last year to oversee the Department of Health’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division.

That makes him the highest paid state worker under the Department of Human Resources Development’s payroll system, which covers almost 15,000 employees across 16 departments.

There are several other payroll systems that cut the checks for the other 35,000 state employees. As we have done the past two years, Civil Beat will be sharing all of these state salaries as they become available.

For now, we’re starting with DHRD’s payroll system, which includes all state workers except those in the Department of Education, the University of Hawaii, Hawaii Health Systems Corp., Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Judiciary and the Legislature.

Michels, a medical doctor, provides oversight of all the child and adolescent mental health division’s clinical services. This includes reviewing the medical necessity and appropriateness of clients using services at residential treatment facilities, monitoring clients’ progress and evaluating the effectiveness of clinical intervention.

Knowing his salary, and how much other state employees earn, provides greater government transparency and helps the public decide if the state is spending its taxpayer dollars wisely. This is one of Civil Beat’s primary missions and the reason we are publishing the state salary database again this year.

As former Civil Beat editor John Temple wrote in 2010, the first year we published the salaries, “providing data on how government works is central to our commitment to helping you understand local issues, including how government operates and how much it costs.” The more people know, the better.

So what does the 2013 salary database tell us? For starters, the state is employing more people and paying them higher salaries than in 2012.

The average salary of the 14,712 state employees under DHRD’s payroll system was $58,233 for the 2013 fiscal year, which ended June 30.

In 2012, there were 14,183 employees who earned an average salary of $54,573.
The bump reflects an economy that is continuing to rebound from the global financial crisis, which the state responded to in part by slashing government workers’ salaries 5 percent.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and the Legislature restored the cuts this past legislative session and funded pay raises for thousands of union workers at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.

The state has spent almost $2 billion on salaries alone for the past few years. When health and retirement benefits are factored in, payroll accounts for more than half of the state operating budget.

A look at the 2013 state salaries shows the medical profession still pays the most. The top three highest paid employees on the DHRD’s payroll all worked in the public health sector, just like last year.

William Sheehan, AMHD clinical medical director, was the highest paid state employee in 2012 with a salary of $295,000. Michels was No. 2 that year, earning $266,472 annually.

Sheehan has a new job title now, Hawaii State Hospital associate administrator of clinical services, and earns $265,212, moving Michels into the top spot.

Here’s the salary database for 2013. You can search by first and last name, department, job title, salary range and year. To compare how this year stacks up to previous years, check out the salary database that covers 2011 and 2012 here.

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