ALBANY - In tough fiscal times, New York state is paying more in overtime pay to state workers.
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said Tuesday overtime pay rose nearly 11 percent last year to $529 million, continuing a costly trend since workforce cuts beginning in 2009.
"State agencies spent nearly $52 million more on overtime in 2012 than the year before for nearly 14.5 million hours of overtime," DiNapoli said.
"We found seven agencies with more than 25 percent of employees working overtime to meet their responsibilities. New York State policy requires limiting overtime to a minimum," he said.
A big increase came in the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, which was the subject of a March budget fight in the Legislature over the latest cut.
DiNapoli said the office saw an average of seven hours of overtime paid to an employee each two-week pay period. The overall staff sized dropped by nearly 3,000 workers since 2008 to 22,672.
The Office of Mental Health and the department that runs prisons and parole accounted for 67 percent of overtime.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has held state spending growth under 2 percent, saving billions, to confront deficits and waste, said Morris Peters of the state Division of Budget.
"Since the governor took office, agency budgets were cut by 10 percent in the first year and spending has remained flat ever since," Peters said. "Each agency is managing their workforce to stay within their budget. As a result, overall payroll spending is down."
Powerful public unions in Albany said the rising overtime is a reflection of poor management and understaffing.
"The Cuomo administration continues to purposely understaff state agencies and mandate overtime to a perverse degree," said CSEA President Danny Donohue. "They tell the public they're cutting the public work force and improving operations when they are really eroding decent middle-class jobs, leaving people at risk and still costing the public plenty."