The books are closed on 2022 and the state’s overtime budget pushed some past the $300,000 pay point — with two eclipsing $400,000 in gross income.
Those Top 10 OT earners all sent their base pay into orbit by clocking in bonus hours, a Herald payroll analysis shows.
It’s a tally watchdogs are saying can’t be sustained and most likely isn’t giving taxpayers their money’s worth.
“Someone needs to take ownership. We have a new governor and the first thing she can do is help taxpayers because on face value, this seems impossible to attain,” said Mass Fiscal’s Paul Craney of Gov.-Elect Maura Healey. “She needs to rein in unsupervised spending.”
The big OT winners — usually dominated by State Police — now include nurses, MBTA workers and corrections officers. The pandemic with all its COVID testing and protocols must be a factor, but the hours add up fast.
One Department of Correction guard told the Herald Tuesday night a few colleagues jumped on the overtime up for grabs.
“A couple of us do a lot of hours,” said DOC officer Edward Johansen, who earned $215,168 in overtime finishing with $313,896 in total pay, Comptroller records show.
“I have 10-year-old twins and after 10 years your body gets used to” the lack of sleep, he added. “I eat right. I do my job,” he said when pressed if he can work all those hours and not see any slip in his performance.
He added he’ll probably ease up in the coming year. Others, however, did not return messages left by the Herald seeking answers to the same questions.
Some in state government are wondering what kind of performance can be expected by those logging in at such a rapid rate. And who, if anyone, is keeping tabs on all the OT.
“These sky-high overtime payments are absolutely mind-boggling,” said Mary Connaughton of the Pioneer Institute. “The public should demand to know how overtime is approved and how supervisors are satisfied these staff can perform effectively in high-risk jobs working so many hours.”
Connaughton, director of government transparency at the Pioneer think tank, added that “when state workers earn more in OT than in base pay, taxpayers deserve answers.”
T spokesman Joe Pesaturo has defended the hefty overtime — and the “forepersons” who dominate the list of top earners — by saying it’s all part of the T’s “aggressive plans to accelerate safety improvements.”
The DOC has also said, “the department remains focused on recruiting, training, and activating classes of new, diverse candidates.” As for state prisons, they say not to worry they all have “appropriate staffing.”
Closing down MCI-Cedar Junction in Walpole over the next two years will also help staffing at other prisons, the DOC added.
In all, 220 state employees earned $100,000 or more last year in overtime pay, records show. Dozens more came close punching in for $80,000 to $90,000 in OT.
Gov. Charlie Baker earned $184,999 — with no overtime despite working seven days a week at times.
This is the first in a series of stories the Herald will be writing as part of the “Your Tax Dollars at Work” project. Go to bostonherald.com to see databases of state payrolls. If you have a tip, email [email protected]