California revokes 48,000 state-issued cell phones

By on January 12, 2011, 7:29 PM
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."




User Comments: 25

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princeton princeton said:

I think the bigger issue is people in business who insist they need an iphone, blackberry and android device at the same time.

Tedster Tedster, Techspot old timer....., said:

typical government fraud, waste, and abuse.

matrix86 matrix86 said:

Finally, a politician I can stand up and applaud. I can't believe Cali has been in such financial ruin all this time and the state has been handing out phones t people who don't need them. And I don't care how high up in the company you are. If you're that high up in a company, you can afford your own damn phone.

DokkRokken said:

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.

Really? I have a feeling that the savings will be greater, with the way people go through text's, and data. If people are provided cell plans, they're going to milk them for all they're worth, unlike a person paying for the plan out of their own pocket.

However, I think the state should provide a degree of compensation for bureaucrats who need to use their phone often for state business. But it should be a flat amount, based upon their job.

Guest said:

If you think Jerry Brown is a "good guy," think again.

California faces, depending upon whose numbers you trust the most, a 15-20B budget deficit.

That's Billion, with a B.

Saving 20M on extraneous cell phones sounds nice but in reality is less than 1% of the budget deficit. It's re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic while the mainstream media slobbers all over him to praise his "fiscal restraint."

It's analogous to the national debate on earmarks. Again, depending upon whose numbers you trust the most, and whether or not you consider unfunded liabilities like Social Security and continued wars (which don't get counted against normal federal budgets), even if you eliminated ALL earmarks from legislation, that only represents like a 0.1% savings against the federal deficit. All that noise that John McCain made railing against earmarks when he was running in '08 was just that - noise. The big drivers killing the federal budget are Medicare, Social Security, and the Military-Industrial-Congressional complex.

At the end of the day, California's biggest problem is defined pension plans for its public employees. They're grossly underfunded and according to projections they will bankrupt California in less than a decade. At that point California can either continue to try floating its bonds (which are almost at junk status at this point), or default on its obligations and try to start over.

It's too bad, since I liked California when I worked there. Much like Illinois (which has similar budget problems), California is a basket case unfortunately when it comes to economics. You can blame state Democrats for their tax and spend ways, and you can blame state Republicans for their borrow and spend ways, but when the implosion comes, those Dems and Repubs will have escaped to their private islands with the fortunes they crookedly accrued while in office peddling their influence. The taxpayers will be the ones left to pick up the pieces.

DokkRokken said:

You have to realize one of the main reasons for California's money problems is their culture of referenda, where large decisions can be put to the public. It's good in principle, but then you have people voting against property tax increases, which is unsustainable. Proposition 13 has tied a double-knotted rope around every Californian politician's hands since 1978.

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

Getting cheap are we.

No opinion intended...just a thought.

Guest said:

California as well as the whole US sucks anyway so who cares?

Lokalaskurar Lokalaskurar said:

Guest said:

California as well as the whole US sucks anyway so who cares?

Pretty harsh conclusion, perhaps? Alas, it's true that the governing people have to find new ways of countering the great deficit. And as a brave soul noted above - the major phone-related issue here might be with people who needs two or more different smartphones to continue working properly.

Guest said:

Well said. This applies to almost all Western governments; both left and right.

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

A compromise would be get those employees cheap prepaid phones, set a limit that the state will pay, and any overages will be paid by the user. I'm sure the cost would be minimal if the state trades the phones that have now in on them.

bakape said:

darkshadoe said:

A compromise would be get those employees cheap prepaid phones, set a limit that the state will pay, and any overages will be paid by the user. I'm sure the cost would be minimal if the state trades the phones that have now in on them.

That sounds like an idea, get them a bunch of 3310s and spin an axe above their heads.

Saintnsinner said:

Good maybe next he'll stop welfare and free medical treatment to all the illegal aliens. I wonder how much that would save?

Guest said:

Assuming the numbers are correct, I still don't think they will save 20 million dollars. 1) You have to have someone monitor the contracts and collect the phones at the appropriate time and turn them in. 2) People will still need to make calls, so now they either have to use a land line or get a reimbursement for using their personal cell phones. This will be less efficient in either case. 3) I doubt you will hear any more about this or see the actual results based on the same numbers used.

foreverzero89 said:

sorry but if i was working for them i would have to have a company cell phone for company business. i won't be using my personal cell for company business.

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

foreverzero89 said:

sorry but if i was working for them i would have to have a company cell phone for company business. i won't be using my personal cell for company business.

Which is why the other 48,000 phones will continue to be used. How many government employees even need a cell phone for company business? I think that the 48,000 who will keep their phones is STILL too many. Bring the number down to 5,000-10,000 and we might start approaching reality.

foreverzero89 said:

but we also have no idea what those peoples' jobs are, they might indeed have a valid use for a company issued phone. so we really can't judge on way or the other where or not they need a phone.

Guest said:

Average $36? What planet is that? I'm moving! Get real. How many gov't employees even need a landline, let alone a cell phone.

TorturedChaos, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

While I agree somewhat with the first guest, it just a drop in the bucket, you also have to start somewhere. If you never do anything to cut spending because it doesn't make a major impact on the amount owed, you are never going to get anywhere. Every little bit helps.

3DCGMODELER 3DCGMODELER said:

Washington State needs to do the same .... yeppers

yRaz yRaz said:

TorturedChaos said:

While I agree somewhat with the first guest, it just a drop in the bucket, you also have to start somewhere. If you never do anything to cut spending because it doesn't make a major impact on the amount owed, you are never going to get anywhere. Every little bit helps.

orly? We need to fill a bucket but only have an ounce in drops. No one wants to pay taxes, but our society can't live without them. And I'm not talking average Joe taxes because there isn't anyway all the averages Joes have enough money to break the deficit. I'm talking taxing Pot and the rich corporations that are laughing at us right now. But the corporations have everyone so brainwashed that the tricked America into voting their side. Make everyone think that if they raise taxes there guns are gonna get stolen or they want to kill grandma(seriously guys?). F%$(ing stupid Americans. Need to get the heck out of this country before it turns into a Russia. We have grown men running around acting like kids completely screwing up our country.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

LOL...well even though I'm none too pleased with how things are going right now, I wouldn't put it down as THAT bad, yRaz.

I'm glad to see this. More innovative thinking on how to get rid of excessive spending. I know in my work place (1500 employees), at least 80% have been issued phones (Blackberry's no less), and I'd say 25% actually need them as part of their work. It's a good place to start and better than doing nothing.

yRaz yRaz said:

LOL...well even though I'm none too pleased with how things are going right now, I wouldn't put it down as THAT bad, yRaz.

tell that to all the kids who's school has been shut down or the teachers that work there. We should be worried about raise funds, not taking away everything every which way. If only those rich bastards would pay more taxes, then everyone could live just as comfortably. They use to call it equality but now it's called socialism.

Guest said:

The American dream......

Guest said:

Still shortsighted. It looks like a big savings but it does not take much to justify having a cell phone. The savings will be spent in lost efficiency elsewhere, desk phones and tasks not being accomplished.

They need to manage better rather than wholesale cutting.

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