Brown orders halt to state’s new-car purchases

Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday ordered the state to halt all new-car purchases and turn in thousands of vehicles that are not needed for essential health or safety services.

The Democratic governor said he hopes to cut by half the estimated 11,000 passenger cars and trucks in the state fleet that are not crucial for state operations. ““Fifty percent is a starting point. If we find more waste, we’ll make more cuts,” Brown said in a statement released by his office.

“There is a lot of wasteful spending on cars that aren’t even driven,” Brown said. “And we can’t afford to spend taxpayer money on new cars while California faces such a massive deficit.”

Brown said he also intended to cut in half the number of “home-storage permits,” which allow state employees to keep government-paid cars at home. Currently, there are about 4,500 permits.

Brown will also move underutilized vehicles to new locations, so that the fleet is more efficient overall. Cars that are not needed will be sold.

There was no immediate estimate of how much money the reductions would save the state. It is not the first time Brown has ordered cuts in state hardware: Earlier, he ordered state agencies to turn in 48,000 government-paid cell phones, which entailed an estimated savings of $20 million.

Brown’s latest order directs top state managers to launch a review of which vehicles and permits are vital and which aren’t and to submit their plan to his staff. “Some employees may need a car around-the-clock because their jobs are public health and safety focused, or it is more cost-effective for the state for certain employees to have a car than not. The review will take this into account,” Brown’s office said.

Non-essential vehicles must be sold or transferred within 120 days of the plan’s approval.  The order also bars agencies and departments from buying new vehicles for non-emergency use.

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