In these lean times, government entities have to make cuts in their services. The hope is such cuts can be done with the least possible damage to the truly needy.
The administration of California Gov. Jerry Brown managed to save $85 million in its cash-strapped budget in the governor’s first year back in office by simply banning non-essential travel for employees of most state agencies. In a huge state such as California, $85 million is not a stupendous amount of money, but the savings demonstrate that with some thought and discipline, cuts can be made in government spending without anyone getting hurt.
Brown initiated the travel ban with an order in April of his first year in office after returning to the governorship. And in that fiscal year state travel costs were $144 million, as compared to $229 million in the final fiscal year of the Schwarzenegger administration. With his order, Brown also cut state-issued cell phones, vehicles and trinkets.
The largest state savings came in the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, which cut $63 million. Brown’s travel ban did not involve California’s two university systems, the two state pension agencies or statewide elected officials.
But the truth is expensive business travel is not as essential as it once was, thanks to computer software innovations such as Skype and GoToMeeting. Much to the chagrin of the airline and hotel industries, meetings now can be conducted online, complete with webcam-enabled “face-to-face” communication.
Of course such meetings do not compare to handshakes and pats on the back and all the other things that go on when people travel to meet and never will, but in hard times such as these, online meetings are a wonderful alternative.
And when it comes to a choice between someone traveling on state business or a poor person getting something to eat, we’ll take the latter every time.
State travel ban
Smart, humane savings
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