Brown’s Order Spells an End to California’s Freebies

California Governor Jerry Brown
California Governor Jerry Brown. Photographer: Ken James/Bloomberg

Feb. 18 (Bloomberg) -- California Governor Jerry Brown ordered state agencies to stop buying give-away items such as key chains, coffee mugs, t-shirts and squeeze toys to help eliminate a $25 billion budget deficit.

The nation’s most indebted state spent $7.5 million on such promotional and marketing items -- known as “swag,” for “stuff we all get” -- from 2007 to 2010, Brown said in a statement today.

“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. “Every taxpayer dollar we save by cutting waste is a dollar that can be used to pay for critical public-safety and social services.”

The 72-year-old Democrat has proposed $12.5 billion in spending cuts to close a deficit projected at $25.4 billion through June 2012. Brown ordered a statewide hiring freeze and directed public workers to turn in half of the 96,000 state-paid mobile phones. The governor also said he wants to trim California’s fleet of 13,600 vehicles.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Marois in Sacramento at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at