Report: Many state workers' total comp. much higher than private sector

SALEM, Ore. -- When you hear that someone works for the state of Oregon you probably think they're being paid less than the private sector, but a report obtained by a determined former state lawmaker shows that's not necessarily the case.

And it could be costing millions of dollars more than it should be.

Former Republican state Rep. Jeff Kropf has spent his career seeking out government waste. Now he's got state wages clearly in his sights.

He showed KATU a report he obtained that was compiled by the state of Oregon. It lists state worker salaries and benefits and compares them to those in the private sector.

"Here's a particular category - office specialist - at 113 percent. There are some in here that are as high as a 140, 150 percent," said Kropf.

The state is using an average salary for groups of employees. So imagine an employee is making $10,000 a month in total compensation in the private sector, and say the state worker is making a market ratio of 140 percent. That means the state worker would make $14,000 in total compensation a month for doing basically the same job as someone in the private sector.

And Kropf points out that some big state salaries like a Pharmacy Manager 2 has a market average of 265 percent.

That's 2 1/2 times what someone in the private sector would make. It is over $16,000 a month in total compensation. According to the state of Oregon's own report, a comparable private sector employee's total compensation is about $6,000 monthly.

"What bugs me the most is that we have a target in the state under law as to where the salaries should be based on this report here, and that in some cases we are dramatically higher than we should be and everybody thinks that's OK," said Kropf.

What's more Kropf says Oregon law requires state worker salaries to be within five percent of the market average. But clearly they're not. He can't believe lawmakers aren't outraged.

"When I served in the Legislature, I never knew this report existed," Kropf said. "Nobody in that building sees this report. Only the governor sees it, the Department of Administrative Services, and the unions because this is use for collective bargaining."

Check out the job of Natural Resource Specialist 4. More than 100 of these state workers make double, over $4,000 a month more than they'd be paid elsewhere.

But not every state worker is doing so well. Some of the lower wage earners make less than 80 percent of the market ratio.

Kropf co-authored a report of his own that he thinks lawmakers should read.

"If we brought those in line, and that includes bringing some of those underpaid state employees to where they should be and bringing the higher ones down to where the law says they should be, we'd save taxpayers $26 million a year. That's no small amount of money," he said.

It's not, and here are some other numbers that'll make some of you cringe:

  • 11 nutrition consultants have salaries nearly three fourths higher than the private sector.
  • 7 equipment repair supervisors? 50 percent more.
  • 2 state veterinarians are paid 170 percent of the private sector.

But on the other side of that:

  • 65 office specialists make 20 percent less than the private sector.
  • 18 facility operations specialists - about 30 percent less.
  • 3 grounds maintenance workers - just 77 percent of the private sector.

It's a lot of numbers, but Kropf is now determined to make it very clear to the taxpayers - that in many cases you're paying higher salaries to state employees than you should be. Like he said: it's the law. But do you care? Either way - you paid for it.