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Gov. Brown slashes state cars to cut costs

January 28, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
In another measure to cut costs, Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order to slash the state's fleet of passenger vehicles.

Governor Brown wants state agencies to stop buying new cars, and to turn in the ones that aren't essential to state business.

He believes about 11,000 vehicles don't serve a public safety or health function. Another 4,500 permits allow certain state workers to take vehicles home for their daily commute.

"I've noticed a lot of cars being driven by state workers," said Governor Brown. "So I put out the order we're cutting them in half and we're going to look to see that every use of a state car is needed."

The order is expected to save $16.5 million a year and it is getting praise from taxpayer groups.

"They are of government-owned cars and the abuse of the vehicle fleet has been one of our pet peeves for many, many years," said Jon Coupal from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Earlier this month, Governor Brown ordered half of nearly 100,000 state-issued cell phones be turned in by June. Brown was the first person to give his up.

The fleet and cell phone cuts may be small but it may be laying the ground work for a bigger plan- to ask voters to extend the temporary tax hikes.

"He realizes that as long as there are those massive fleets out there and state employees that have all these cell phones, that argument for more tax increases is more difficult," said Coupal.

A poll out this week shows strong support for Brown to put the tax hikes on a special election ballot, but getting voters to approve them may be a bigger hurdle.

"Each year, it seems like we're asked to pay more and more and more, and we're getting less and less and less," said Rod Dallou who opposes tax hikes.

Brown's State of the State address Monday is expected to make the case with voters for their help in getting California back on track.