As part of his cost cutting measures, Governor Jerry Brown is confiscating the cell phones of California State workers. Something every teenager can’t live without will be ripped from the hands of government personnel.

The Gov feels that 96,000 tax-payer-financed cell phones are a bit much. He wants to reduce the number to half by the middle of the year ? at least ones not on a contract. He is asking department heads to reevaluate their staff’s need for a state-paid-for phone. It is estimated the move will save about $20 million dollars a year ? much more than your teenager ever thought of racking up in text messaging. 

It would not surprise us if Brown had those electronic devices recycled in a green move. However, knowing his frugal nature, he just may sell them and put the cash in the California coffers. Two sites pop up quickly during an Internet search: Cell for Cash and Pace Butler. Explaining his latest directive, Brown said:

Some state employees, including department and agency executives who are required to be in touch 24 hours a day and seven days a week, may need cell phones, but the current number of phones out there is astounding.

Brown is using Executive Orders to make changes, bypassing the legislature, in his strident efforts to immediately take actions to curtail the financial crisis in his state. California is looking down the tunnel at an estimated $25.4 billion shortfall in the next 18 months. The cuts aren’t popular and hit sacred cows, such as education and social services. His inaugural address warned of unpopular, but necessary reining in of all expense areas, and identification of additional avenues of revenue generation.

Brown is known for penny-pinching. The state’s cell phones expense, while only about $36 a month each is extraordinary when multiplied by the 96,000 being charged to the State. During his previous administration, Brown also looked at the devil in the details. He avoided living in the luxurious mansion of previous governors, choosing a small apartment instead, and used a 1974 Plymouth Satellite in lieu of the more prestigious Lincoln Town Car for getting around.

It would not surprise us to learn that Brown is a fan of Clark Howard’s program Save More, Spend Less, and Avoid Rip-Offs.