California’s State Psychiatrists and Taxpayers

According to the Sacramento Bee, California state prison psychiatrists earn about $300,000 a year, but apparently, that’s not enough. Their union wants a 15 percent across-the-board hike for the fiscal year starting July 1. That gives taxpayers plenty to ponder.

The 15-percent hike is based on what the state pays to independent contractors, not improved performance on the part of the state-employed psychiatrists. Their union representative presented no data showing that, due to state psychiatrists’ performance, convicts are now leaving the prison system in better mental condition than when they entered. The bid for the raise is therefore based on envy and greed, not merit. 

According to the Bee report, “the state has nudged pay upward, and last year offered $10,000 bonuses for psychiatrists who agreed to meet with patients in-person.” So the state employees are not exactly working in hardship conditions. Like all state employees, the government psychiatrists enjoy generous health, vacation, and pension benefits, all funded by taxpayers. 

Sen. Bob Hertzberg, Van Nuys Democrat, contends that spending on contract psychiatrists is “stupid” and that his job is to “protect taxpayers.” If taxpayers thought it was stupid and irresponsible, to grant the state’s $300,000-a-year psychiatrists a 15-percent raise, absent any evidence of improved performance, it would be hard to blame them.

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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