A Little Too Much Heavy Breathing Over Spending on Swag?

(Editor’s Note: Gov. Jerry Brown issued this press release today:)


Governor Brown Eliminates “S.W.A.G”

Memo bans state spending on key chains, stress balls, ashtrays, t-shirts and other “freebie” items

SACRAMENTO – Governor Jerry Brown’s administration today directed all state agencies and departments to stop spending taxpayer dollars on free giveaway and gift items—such as key chains, coffee mugs and squeeze toys—as part of continuing efforts to cut costs and tackle the state’s budget gap.

“Not a cent of taxpayer money should be spent on flashlights, ashtrays or other unnecessary items, most of which likely end up in landfills,” said Governor Brown. “Every taxpayer dollar we save by cutting waste is a dollar than can be used to pay for critical public safety and social services.”

SWAG1A statewide review revealed that from 2007 to 2010 state agencies and departments spent a total of $7.5 million on items including key chains, squeeze toys, pens, hats, trinkets, shirts, cups and other gift items known colloquially as “S.W.A.G,” or “Stuff We All Get.”


These include promotional and marketing items across almost every agency in the state.

Today’s ban follows Brown’s request earlier this week for the Bureau of State Audits and the Little Hoover Commission to each provide a list of “Top 10 Actions” California can take to cut government waste and increase efficiency.SWAG2

The Governor has also issued Executive Orders to freeze hiring across state government and cut state cell phones and the passenger vehicle fleet in half

These actions are part of Brown’s efforts to save money this fiscal year and to cut $363 million in operational costs next fiscal year.

A breakdown of “S.W.A.G” expenditures from 2007 to 2010 is below.




S.W.A.G Expenditures 2007 -2010


Business, Transportation & Housing Agency


State and Consumer Services Agency


Health and Human Services Agency


Department of Food & Agriculture


Labor and Workforce Development Agency


California Volunteers


Environmental Protection Agency


Emergency Management Agency


Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation


Department of Veterans Affairs






(The bag of swag shown by the governor’s press office to buttress his action is filled mostly with key chains, crayons and other giveaways from departments whose operations aren’t paid for out of the general fund which is where the state’s $26.6 billion budget shortfall exists. The Board of Pharmacy, the Department of Motor Vehicles, Caltrans, the Bureau of Automotive Repair all are paid for through either fees levied on the people they regulate or by specific taxes, like those on gasoline. During the three year period cited in the Democratic governor’s press release, 2007 through 2010, the state’s three annual budgets totaled $372.7 billion of which swag represented $7.5 million. That would be a very significantly less amount than 1 percent of state spending.)

Filed under: Budget and Economy


  1. Looks closer to .002%.

    Comment by Dcurtin — 2.18.2011 @ 11:10 pm

  2. You should see the Swag that the W.I.C. program Buys.

    (Women in Crisis)

    Paper hats
    Key chains
    Cary bage

    Comment by SingeU — 2.22.2011 @ 12:54 pm

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