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Jerry Brown orders elimination of trinkets

February 18, 2011 | 11:48 am

Gov. Jerry Brown is cracking down on swag. Brown said Friday he was eliminating funding for trinkets and doodads handed out by state agencies, a move he says will save the state $7.5 million dollars. “Not a cent of taxpayer money should be spent on flashlights, ashtrays or other unnecessary items, most of which likely end up in landfills,” Brown said in a statement. “Every taxpayer dollar we save by cutting waste is a dollar that can be used to pay for critical public safety and social services.”

Brown’s office laid the offending merchandise out for television cameras in the state Capitol Friday. There were hand-held fans from the Department of Motor Vehicles, Board of Pharmacy pill boxes –- even little plastic cones from CalTrans.

The announcement came while Senate and Assembly budget committees were approving the blueprint of Brown’s state $84.6-billion spending proposal.

Though the houses adopted Brown's call to cut billions from healthcare for the poor and the state's public universities, the governor highlighted state spending that most deem indefensible in times of systemic multibillion-dollar budget deficits.  Cuts such as eliminating trinkets, cellphones and limiting state cars save mere fractions of the dollars needed to bridge the state’s $25.4-billion budget gap. But these small gestures pay great political dividends. That will be key for Brown as he tries to build trust with voters before asking them to raise taxes later this year.

-- Anthony York in Sacramento