Jerry Brown bans nonessential travel by state employees

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday forbade all state employee travel that is not “mission critical” to the operation of California government.

“Our fiscal challenges demand that we take a much closer look at how taxpayer dollars are being spent within state government,” Brown said in a written statement accompanying his executive order. “Now is not the time to attend conferences, travel to meetings or take out-of-state field trips.”

Some inspectors, auditors, tax collectors and others will still be allowed to crisscross the state. But travel deemed essential now must be approved by agency and department heads, Brown’s order states. Out-of-state trips must receive approval from the governor’s office.

Administration officials said they did not have an estimate on how much money the order would save, but said hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent annually on travel. It is not clear how much of that will be deemed essential. The governor’s proposed budget already counts on uncovering $250 million in general fund savings from improved efficiency in state operations.

The executive order is the latest in a series of moves Brown has made to cut costs and build public support for his budget package. He has curbed car and cellphone privileges for government workers, imposed a hiring freeze and is trying to recover unrepaid salary advances and travel advances that have gone unaccounted for in recent years.

California Republican Party spokesman Mark Standriff dismissed Tuesday’s order as a “big-on-symbolism-but-short-on-substance edict.”

“The simple truth is that Jerry Brown is no closer to a real budget solution than he was in January, and his vaunted political skills are consistently coming up short,” Standriff said in a statement.

Brown is campaigning to close part of the state’s deficit by restoring some expiring taxes, but his plan has met resistance among Republicans in the Legislature. In recent weeks, Brown has traveled the state himself, mostly to GOP districts, seeking support.

Such travel is critical and will continue, said Brown spokesman Gil Duran, who noted that the governor travels as frugally as possible, often without any staff.

“The governor flies Southwest on a senior discount,” he said.

shane.goldmacher@latimes.com

Apr 27th, 2011 | Posted in Travel
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