State workers racked up more than $500 million in extra pay this last year -- and we're not talking about overtime.

We're talking about special payments that come on top of salaries -- awarded to employees who get credentials, drive the office carpool, work on deadlines, know multiple languages, or even just stick around long enough.

An Associated Press analysis shows the average payout in 2012 was $5,300 per employee for those who received extra money, a 17 percent increase over the previous year.

State HR officials say the categories reward special skills and attract candidates to jobs at what may be a less than desireable location, like Susanville or Pelican Bay.

The cash was distributed among 95,000 employees, according to the Associated Press.

State human resources officials say the perks help them bring in the best employees.