California to eliminate half of state employees’ cell phones

no cell phonesNew California governor Jerry Brown has one way to deal with the cash-strapped state: Get rid of California-funded cell phones. Claiming he will also be handing in his own state-issued phone, Brown is attempting to shut off service to nearly 50,000 phones by summer.

“It is difficult for me to believe that 40 percent of all state employees must be equipped with tax-payer-funded cell phones. The current numbers of phones out there is astounding,” Brown says. The governor claims the move could save some $20 million.

Brown is demanding that state employees return their 96,000 cell phones, which according to the governor’s office, average $36 a month for tax payers. Unfortunately, simply collecting these phones might not be terribly simple. Breaking carrier contracts could actually end up costing the state more, so the June 1 deadline could be extended.

Lower-level employees are happy with the cuts. Many have been subjected to pay cuts and loss of benefits, and it makes sense that gifted cell phones be the first thing to go. “I’m a taxpayer before I’m a state worker. There’s still a lot of waste here. I’d rather they take it [cell phones] away from the high-wage earners than the peons. We’ve been taking it for three years,” an Employment Development Department employee told the San Francisco Chronicle (she asked to remain anonymous).