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Gov. Jerry Brown Snatching Cell Phones From Employees

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Snatching cell phones from state employees was Gov. Jerry Brown's first executive decision on Tuesday, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Brown ordered state agency and department heads to repo half of the approximately 96,000 state-issued devices "currently in public employees' hands." At an average of $36 a month Brown believes the effort can save California at least $20 million a year.

Said Brown in a written statement, "It is difficult for me to believe that 40 percent of all state employees must be equipped with tax-payer funded cell phones," reports the San Francisco Chronicle. He is hoping to cut the number to 48,000 by June 1 pending carrier contracts. Even with the reduction in phone force, one-fifth of state employees will still have the devices.

An estimated $25.4 billion deficit is waiting for California over the next 18 months, and Brown's budget proposal Monday included cuts to social services, higher education and the extension of some taxes. Notes Brown in the San Francisco Chronicle, "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."