Civil Beat Shares Hawaii State Employee Salaries

RJ Brown/Civil Beat

UPDATED 9/21/11 10:30 a.m.

Editor's Note: Civil Beat has published a new story with updated salaries, per the 2011 fiscal year. Read that story here.

The biggest cost in state government is people. They're what makes it tick.

But how much we're paying them isn't so well known — even though the information is a matter of public record and should be available to any citizen who asks. At Civil Beat, we're committed to truth and transparency. 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.

So a week after the site went live, Civil Beat filed a request with the state Department of Human Resources for the names, salaries, positions and titles of all state employees. State salary information — that is, the way the state spends its taxpayers' money — provides an important view into how our state works and how we got to where we are. In a state in which payroll makes up 60 percent of the general fund, we believe it is important to have this information available for everyone.

Now on our site, in addition to a PDF of the document the state provided, you'll find a searchable database (available to full members) where you can find how much the state pays by position and, in many cases, by individual.

When making tough budget decisions, the more we all know the better. It's also important for state employees to know that they're being paid fairly in comparison with their colleagues, just as it's important for citizens to know how the state is spending tax dollars.

The database we're publishing today includes more than 14,000 people. This isn't all of state government. It reflects 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. Civil Beat has requested salary information from all those entities and will post the results on this site when we receive them.

What Civil Beat is doing isn't uncommon. Many journalistic organizations ask for state salary information to provide insight into how their state works and how taxpayer money is being used. A sampling of those can be found at WikiFoia and on the website of the Sunshine Review.

What may be new is that, to our knowledge, nobody has done this before in Hawaii.

In Hawaii, the data we're providing doesn't include overtime or any other compensation, such as health benefits or pensions, which can often be a valuable benefit of public employment. It's also important to note that the salaries provided to Civil Beat are pre-furloughs. Many state employees are being forced to take off 24 days this fiscal year, cutting 9.23 percent from their compensation.

Today we're publishing articles on the highest paid positions and the lowest paid positions. We've also included an article about how Noelle is in just such a database on a California newspaper website. Other articles will come in the future as will other databases, expanding our understanding of how tax dollars are spent.

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