Thousands of California state employees can kiss their government-issued cell phones goodbye. Newly elected California Governor Jerry Brown has issued a mandate demanding government workers to return some 48,000 handsets
. The state currently pays for 96,000 phones, which amounts to one device for 40% of all state employees.
"It is difficult for me to believe that 40% of all state employees must be equipped with taxpayer-funded cell phones," the governor said. He noted that higher-ups such as department and agency executives must remain available 24/7, but the average worker doesn't. "The current number of phones out there is astounding," said Brown.
The governor plans to cut the number of phones in half by June 1, with continued returns throughout the year. It may take longer than expected to deactivate some of the devices because many are under contract and the state wants to avoid early termination fees. Brown expects the 50% reduction to yield an annual savings of $20 million.
If you're curious, that figure assumes each phone bill is just over $36, which is the average rate as determined by the Department of Finance. "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."