On Wednesday, the Empire Center for New York State Policy released payroll data showing over 8,000 MTA employees made over $100,000, including overtime and extra pay, and an overall average pay raise of 2.4%. There's a searchable database of the employees and their salaries, leading to factoids like "Eleven of the 561 employees who earned more than $150,000 in 2009 were Long Island Railroad car repairmen who earned an average of $167,342 - which was $102,477 over their annual base pay rate of $64,865." Yup, overtime is costing a fortune.

The NY Times points out, "A Long Island Rail Road conductor who retired in April, made $239,148, about $4,000 more than the authority’s chief financial officer" and "more than a quarter of the Long Island Rail Road’s 7,000 employees earned more than $100,000 last year, including the conductor, Thomas J. Redmond, and two locomotive engineers — who were among the top 25 earners in the entire transportation authority." (Related: LIRR employees on disability.)

This news comes as the MTA is trying to deal with a $400 million budget shortfall. The MTA released a statement saying the 2.4% wage increases "reflects built-in raises provided under multi-year labor contracts" and says the data does show the "MTA reduced its workforce and held down costs by foregoing management raises." Plus: "The MTA's $800 million budget shortfall for 2010 -- caused by State budget cuts and deteriorating tax revenues -- means there's much more work to be done. We are in the process of overhauling every aspect of our business, including the elimination of approximately 3,000 positions this year. One key part of this effort is a focus on the work rules, pension padding and management oversight that leads to some of the unnecessary overtime highlighted in today's report."