Four New York state employees last year collected more than $300,000 each in overtime, according to 2023 payroll data posted today on SeeThroughNY, the Empire Center’s government transparency website.

All four were psychiatric nurses employed by the Office of Mental Health. The top overtime recipient was Huyphuc Pham, a psychiatric nurse supervisor at Bronx Psychiatric Center, who collected $350,933 in overtime for total pay of $494,496.

The other three overtime titans were:

  • Hardarshan Singh (Bronx Psychiatric): $350,304 OT, total pay: $497,233
  • Annu Bosco Varghese (Creedmoor Psychiatric): $316,363 OT, total pay: $443,543
  • Michael A. Salzillo (Pilgrim Psychiatric): $302,898 OT, total pay: $450,659

A total of 439 state employees collected over $100,000 in overtime, including:

  • 173 in the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
  • 126 in the Office of Mental Health
  • 57 in the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities

Last year 121 New York state employees collected enough overtime to more than triple their regular pay, with 15 of them quadrupling their pay. Despite this, overtime pay in New York state government ticked down, from $1.4 billion in 2022 to $1.2 billion last year.

“Overtime levels can reflect staffing challenges at state facilities but they can also shine a light on places where government operations can be improved,” said Ken Girardin, research director.

Since 2008, Empire Center has made the state payroll, along with public pensions, local government and school district payrolls and other government spending data searchable on SeeThroughNY.

Migrant Crisis, Bonuses, Retroactive Raises Help Push State Payroll Over $19B

The data show New York’s state government payroll last year swelled from $18.2 billion to $19.4 billion (6 percent) in the biggest one-year jump in recent history. The figures do not reflect the cost of state benefits, including health care and state retirement, or employer payroll taxes.

Half of the increase was attributable to three agencies: SUNY (up $257 million [6 percent] to $4.5 billion), the state’s judicial branch (up $243 million [15 percent] to $1.9 billion) and the Division of Military and Naval Affairs (up $93 million [84 percent] to $203 million.

The increased Military and Naval Affairs payroll stemmed from the activation of National Guardsmen and others to address the migrant crisis in New York City. The Division’s “State Active Duty” payroll jumped from $15 million in 2022 to $106 million.

Agency payrolls were boosted by the payment of $3,000 bonuses, retroactive pay raises and other extra pay given to unionized employees under contracts negotiated in 2022 and 2023 (though detailed cost estimates were never issued).

New York began 2024 with 208,924 full-time equivalents (FTEs), up 6,191 from January 2023, when it had 202,733, according to the state comptroller’s office.

Compared to January 2020, when the state had 217,198 FTEs, January 2024 level was 8,274 lower. Most of that difference came from a 5,948 FTE decrease (21 percent) at the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, where the number of prison inmates fell from 46,000 in 2019 to around 31,000 in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

“Governor Hochul reported in January that state government has more than 10,000 vacancies,” said Girardin. “The governor and state lawmakers should be using this opportunity to seek out less costly, more flexible ways to deliver or better yet improve services. They should also implement performance metrics so we can understand where agencies need better processes rather than just more people.”

The list of the 100 highest-paid state employees, all of whom made over $461,000, is dominated by SUNY professors, doctors and executives (as well as three sports coaches). The top 100 also includes ten psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses at the Office of Mental Health, seven CUNY officials and the state pension system’s chief investment officer.

The highest-paid state employee in 2023 was Robert J. Corona, Jr., Chief Executive Officer of Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, who was paid $897,825. A total of 1,331 employees were paid more than Gov. Kathy Hochul’s $250,000 salary.

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