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Gov. Jerry Brown moves to cut state's car fleet in half

January 28, 2011 |  1:09 pm

Determined to cut the fleet of non-emergency vehicles owned by the state in half, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday ordered state agencies to halt new car purchases and reduce their existing fleet by selling off automobiles that are not "essential" for state business.

The governor, who is asking voters to approve an extension of higher taxes in June, said the state needs to cut back on spending at a time when it is facing a $25.4-billion budget shortfall.

"There is a lot of wasteful spending on cars that aren't even driven," Brown said in a statement accompanying his executive order. "And we can't afford to spend taxpayer money on new cars while California faces such a massive deficit."

Just as he did recently with the state's inventory of cellphones (ordering 48,000 to be turned in), Brown said his goal is to cut the number of cars, trucks and take-home vehicles in half. 

"Fifty percent is a starting point," he said. "If we find more waste, we’ll make more cuts."

The state owns about 11,000 vehicles not assigned to health or public safety agencies such as the California Highway Patrol, of which about 4,500 are permitted to be driven home at night by state workers, according to the Department of General Services. 

Brown's second executive order since taking office earlier this month requires every state department manager to review the need for sending each car home at night and to cancel permits that are deemed unnecessary. Some managers and employees who have to be on-call after hours to respond to emergencies may be justified to take a car home at night, Brown said. 

After evaluating the fleet, administrators are being ordered to sell "non-essential" vehicles within 120 days. 

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento