El Camino officials filed a lawsuit in December challenging the measure, which limited hospital executives' salaries to twice what the California governor earned. That meant Santa Clara could pay executives a maximum of $330,000 annually, which is twice the $165,000 salary Gov. Jerry Brown receives. Voters approved the measure in November, with 51.9% voting in favor.
El Camino officials lauded the ruling. They were concerned that the measure would hinder their efforts to attract and retain qualified administrators. They said they are prudently spending the taxpayers' money. El Camino President and CEO Tomi Ryba earned $695,000 in base pay in 2012, plus a bonus of $137,815.
“For the last 50 years, the El Camino Healthcare District has been committed to the health and well-being of the community we serve, while maintaining fiscal responsibility,” said Dr. Patricia Einarson, chairwoman of El Camino's board in a statement. “The conclusion of this case allows us to refocus our attention on developing vital programs and services to benefit our community today and well into the future.”
Service Employees Union International-United Healthcare Workers West launched a campaign in support of Measure M, saying money spent on excessive administrator salaries would be better spent toward facility upgrades and other resources that would improve patient care. Two SEIU members, also employees at El Camino, were named in the lawsuit. Union officials couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
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