California Governor Jerry Brown wants to save the state $20 million per year by making state employees return taxpayer funded cell phones. In his first executive order as governor, Mr. Brown directed agency and department heads to cut their employees’ cell phones by half. According to the governor’s office, 40 percent of all state employees have mobile phones – a number Mr. Brown says is “astounding.”
The state pays for 96,000 cell phones, but Gov. Brown wants to cut that number in half by June 1. The state’s Department of Finance indicated that the average cell phone bill is just over $36 per month, meaning the state spends roughly $41 million per year on mobile phones.
“It is difficult for me to believe that 40 percent of all state employees must be equipped with taxpayer-funded cell phones,” Gov. Brown said in a statement. “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.”
The June deadline to reduce the amount of cell phones in the state’s workforce by half was set to avoid early termination charges and other fees, he 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,” the governor continued.
“In the face of a multi-billion dollar budget deficit, a cell phone may not seem like a big expense. But spending $20 million, and perhaps far more than that, on cell phones can’t be justified.”