ALBANY -- As the Cuomo administration tries to rein in costs, one element of state spending has grown dramatically in the past year: overtime pay.
Overtime paid to state employees jumped $50 million to $520 million in 2012 -- increasing 11 percent -- according to state records obtained through a Freedom of Information request.
Four of the top 10 earners work on Long Island.
Dozens of employees raked in more in overtime than they earned in base salary. Five earned more than $100,000 in overtime alone in 2012. Another 15 were paid $80,000 or more.
"State agency overtime jumped more than $50 million last year, reversing a downward trend," Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said. "While often necessary, overtime is an expensive way to operate. Agencies need to do a better job of monitoring their overtime and reduce it whenever possible."
A Cuomo spokesman said some of the spike was due to superstorm Sandy.
"The alternative would lead to a larger, more costly and inefficient state government -- the exact opposite of what this administration has worked toward during the past two years," Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said in an email.
"The fact is that the unprecedented damage caused by Hurricane Sandy was also met by a strong response by all segments of the state workforce -- especially at these three agencies," he added. "Their work was critical at New York's time of need and overtime cost incurred during this time period will be reimbursed by the federal government."
The top overtime earner was a nurse at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, a women's prison in Westchester County. She is paid an annual salary of $58,468 -- but hauled in another $150,630 by working 2,517 overtime hours, according to state records.