Editor’s note: This is the first in an ongoing series on Hawaii government salaries.

Despite growing its operating budget this year, Hawaii state government has yet to restore its work force to pre-recession levels, according to an analysis by Civil Beat.

Lawmakers agreed on an $11 billion operating budget for the year that started July 1 — an 8 percent increase over the previous year’s budget.

But last year’s smaller budget included salaries, health and pension benefits for a total of 45,241 full-time employees. This year’s larger budget covers almost 500 fewer full-time workers, or 44,747 total. The current employee count is down by more than 1,750 compared with the fiscal 2009 budget year, which started July 1, 2008, before the global financial crisis took its toll.

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.

Fiscal Year FT Employees Total Budget (General Funds)
2008 45,908 $10.37 billion ($5.18 billion)
2009 46,535 $10.78 billion ($5.32 billion)
2010 46,048 $10.8 billion ($5.14 billion)
2011 45,241 $10.5 billion ($5.26 billion)
2012 44,747 $11 billion ($5.44 billion)

About 20 percent of the overall budget increase is tied to the cost of putting people back to work on furlough days. (Other causes of the increase include higher costs for social services like Medicaid and debt service.)

Ending Furloughs Pushed Up Labor Costs

Because furloughs were unpaid work days, they resulted in about a 10 percent pay cut for affected employees. Restoring that pay also increased the amount of retirement benefits the state owes employees because contributions are calculated as a percentage of payroll.

In an effort to offset those increased labor costs, lawmakers are counting on 5-percent labor reductions across the state’s unionized work force. Legislators built into the budget $88.2 million in savings they want to achieve this fiscal year. That includes savings from the pay cuts agreed to by most members of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, the state’s largest union. They’re also counting on 5 percent cuts that haven’t been agreed to, including from the Hawaii State Teachers Association1 and United Public Workers union.

Lawmakers also extended 5-percent pay cuts for themselves and top-level employees in the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of state government. The governor authorized extending the June 2009 pay reductions through the end of 2013 for himself, the lieutenant governor, judges, department heads and deputies. (Read about how Abercrombie’s spending on his office compares with spending by former Gov. Linda Lingle.)

Still, the state is paying $103 million more for health premiums and retirement contributions this year than last year.

In total, 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. It’s spending $681.5 million on employee pension contributions, and $502.5 million on employee and retiree health benefits. That means almost 58 percent of the general fund budget is spent on payroll expenses.

14,183 Salaries

Just as Civil Beat did last year, we filed a request under Hawaii’s open records law asking for the names, positions and salaries of state employees. This information is required by law to be public. (Read an article explaining our view on the importance of public access to such data and an article exploring practices in other states.)

The state Department of Human Resources Development provided a spreadsheet listing 14,183 positions. The document covers all state departments except the Hawaii Department of Education, University of Hawaii, Hawaii Health Systems Corp., the Hawaii Judiciary and the Legislature. (There are close to 20,500 employees in the Department of Education alone, and another 7,200 throughout the University of Hawaii system.)

Civil Beat analyzed the data to determine the highest-paid employees. It also found that as many as 965 employees could be earning so little that they’re eligible for federal food stamps, based on the low end of their salary range.

The salaries were as of July 1 and for most positions reflect the pay cut imposed as part of the new HGEA contract.

Here is a searchable database with all state employees for the 2011 and 2012 fiscal years. You can search by first and last name, department, job title, salary range and year.

Ten Most-Common Positions

Civil Beat’s analysis also found that 1,297, or about 9 percent, of state workers had unique job titles. The rest have positions that appear at least twice on the payroll.

The most common position in state government is an Adult Corrections Officer III2, a position that pays between $43,404 and $53,040. There are 852 employees in that position.

Here’s a list of the 10 most-common positions:

Job Title Employees
Adult Corrections Officer III 852
Office Assistant III 690
Janitor II 415
Eligibility Worker III 296
Office Assistant IV 230
Deputy Sheriff II 212
Adult Corrections Officer IV 195
Registered Nurse III 183
Secretary II 177
Deputy Attorney General 157

Lena Tran contributed to this report.

  1. The governor unilaterally imposed a new labor contract on HSTA members effective July 1 that includes a 5 percent wage reduction via a combination of a 1.5 percent salary schedule reduction, plus directed leave without pay, or furloughs.
  2. This is the job description for Adult corrections officer III. Performs security and custodial duties and participates in the correctional process of adult residents in a correctional facility. Examples of duties: Supervises the conduct of residents in various activities; escorts residents, stands watch and takes periodic counts of residents; participates in searches for contraband; guards entrance ways and searches vehicles; informs visitors of rules and performs search of their person; reports infractions of rules or suspicious occurrences, and takes other required action; prevents escapes and injury by residents to themselves, employees and to property.

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