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State agencies overdoing overtime

How much overtime is too much at state agencies? A new state audit suggests they need to do a better job of managing their employees' overtime hours, identifying $13.1 million in overtime pay in the 2007-08 fiscal year and more than 150 employees who earned at least $10,000 that way. The Kansas Department of Transportation spent $4.2 million on overtime. The Kansas Highway Patrol spent $2 million, including $29,000 to an explosives expert. Two Kansas Lottery employees worked more than 700 hours of overtime, increasing their annual income by nearly 50 percent. (At least the state was reimbursed for some of that overtime by a Rhode Island contractor, according to Ed Van Petten, executive director of the Kansas Lottery.) A physician at the Kansas Neurological Institute in Topeka augmented a $40,000 salary with $36,000 of overtime. Unfortunately, the remedy recommended by state auditors — hiring more permanent staff — will be hard until the budget crisis passes.