Didn’t Have Them Thirty Years Ago, Don’t Need Them Now

Governor Brown Orders Massive Cell Phone Cutback for State Employees

SACRAMENTO – In his first executive order since taking office, Governor Jerry Brown today directed state agency and department heads to collect and turn in 48,000 government-paid cell phones–half of those now in use–by June 1, 2011.

Brown said the state now pays for 96,000 cell phones, one for 40 percent of all state employees.  He estimated that the state will save at least $20 million a year by cutting cell phone usage in half.

“It is difficult for me to believe that 40 percent of all state employees must be equipped with taxpayer-funded cell phones,” the Democratic governor said. “Some state employees, including department and agency executives who are required to be in touch 24 hours a day and seven days a week, may need cell phones, but the current number of phones out there is astounding.”

Brown said his goal is to cut the number of phones in half by June 1, and said he believes the state can continue to reduce cell phone usage throughout the year. He explained that some cell phones may be under term contracts with cell carriers, and he wants to make sure that the state does not incur early termination penalties that exceed the monthly savings.

“Because of contract obligations, it is possible that we may not be able eliminate all 48,000 cell phones by June 1, but it is also conceivable that we can do it earlier – and that is my hope,” Brown said.

“Even with a 50 percent reduction, one-fifth of all state employees will still have cell phones,” he said.  “That still seems like too much and I want every department and agency to examine and justify all cell phone usage.”

Brown’s estimate of at least $20 million in annual savings assumes that the average cell phone bill is a bit over $36 a month, which the Department of Finance has determined is the average cost.

“In the face of a multi-billion dollar budget deficit, a cell phone may not seem like a big expense,” Brown said. “But spending $20 million, and perhaps far more than that, on cell phones can’t be justified. We’re facing a budget crisis in California and I want to achieve all possible, reasonable savings. We have one of the best state workforces in America, and I am confident that all state employees will understand the need for this move and will cooperate.”

(Editor’s Note: State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, entered a meeting with the Assembly Republican caucus January 11 following Brown’s executive order carrying a waste basket, telling the lawmakers: “I’m here to collect cell phones.”)


Filed under: Budget and Economy

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