Crazifornia: Dramatic car fleet cuts aren’t dramatic enough

Aug. 30, 2012

By Laer Pearce

Gov. Jerry Brown didn’t cut any beat up old Plymouths from the state’s car fleet this Tuesday, but that enduring symbol of his Moonbeam years aside, he did give the fleet a bit of a trim, issuing an executive order requiring the state to dump 7,112 vehicles.

Will that include the 50 Toyota Priuses the California Department of General Services bought in 2009, then left on the roof of a parking garage for eight months? Or the 51 vans the California Highway Patrol purchased, then let collect dust in lots for two years as Californians paid out $90,385 in interest payments on them? Probably not, although in a press release, Brown did acknowledge that a lot of the cars to be cut “aren’t even driven.”

The Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation’s fleet got the biggest whack, as 2,263 vehicles will be pared from its fleet. If you’re wondering how big the Dept. of Corrections’ fleet had to be if the state could so easily eliminate 2,263 vehicles from it, the answer is 8,940.  Post-reduction, the department is left with a mere 6,677 vehicles for the members of California’s powerful prison guards union to tootle around in as they count down the days until the start of their lucrative retirements.

44,000 cars remain

According to information provided to me by the Department of General Services (which must cut 823 vehicles from its fleet), 44,000 state-owned cars will remain after the purge. While that sounds like a very large fleet for a state to maintain at taxpayer expense, you have to be careful with California statistics because this is one very large state.  We have more school kids than Virginia has people, for example, and only five states have more registered vehicles than Los Angeles County alone does.  So, to be fair, you need to compare the number of state employees per car state by state before jumping to conclusions.

Well, go ahead and jump.  It turns out that California does have a very large car fleet, even after the cuts. Once the state dumps the 7,112 cars, it will be left with about one car for every five state employees.  (The state counted 223,370 active employees in July.)  In Illinois, a state that rivals California in government mismanagement, there is only one state car for every 6.6 state employees — about the same as Arkansas. And in Pennsylvania, no slouch when it comes to government excess, there is only one state car for every 8.5 state employees.

Still too many cars

So — and this should come as no surprise to anyone — California had way too many cars in its fleet before the cut, and will have way too many cars in its fleet after the cut is in place.

This close look at the fleet-trimming story shows it to be much like this week’s larger California budget story:  the proposal to trim public employee retirement benefits. A quick crunch of the numbers by Sacramento analysts showed the proposed changes could bring as much as $40 to $60 billion in lower pension costs. But with the pension deficit anywhere from $250 billion to a more likely $500 billion, like the car cuts, the pension cuts are just not enough.

California may be at or near the bottom of a lot of state-to-state comparisons — worst for business, worst legal environment, 46th in elementary school math scores, 48th in reading and 49th in science — but it continues to score near the top in not doing enough to get its budget deficits under control.

Laer Pearce is an occasional contributor to He works in California public affairs and is the author of Crazifornia, Tales from the Tarnished State, which will be available in September.



Write a comment
  1. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 30 August, 2012, 08:00

    I live in a downtown Sacramento neighborhood, and can’t believe how many state vehicles I see parked in driveways!


    Reply this comment
  2. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 30 August, 2012, 08:13

    Do you want GM to go broke and lose 25 billion of federal investment?

    Do you want state workers driving their own junkers…they cannot afford decent reliable cars due to low pay.

    Reply this comment
  3. Karen Myers-Vance
    Karen Myers-Vance 30 August, 2012, 09:20

    Why don’t they just do away with all nonessential cars, pay the “public servants” mileage, and let them drive their own cars. Then they would have the extra money to help the schools and the retirement program to some extent. I have several neighbors that work for the state. They have nice cars and make an outrageous salary. I don’t think this request would be an imposition for any California State Public Servant, especially if they knew some of the funds would be going to help out their retirement plan.

    Reply this comment
  4. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 30 August, 2012, 10:16

    Teddy, state workers make 2-20 times more than the average CA worker. FAIL 🙂

    Reply this comment
  5. Edward Steele, Chief Investigator
    Edward Steele, Chief Investigator 30 August, 2012, 11:05

    Poodle— Now you think I am Karen Myers-Vance? Are you drinking from the toilet again Poodle? Bad doggie.

    Reply this comment
  6. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 30 August, 2012, 12:22

    No Teddy, I know who you are, and your sock puppets…….Hi Queeg, Hi Uhaul 😉

    Reply this comment
  7. Edward Steele, Chief Investigator
    Edward Steele, Chief Investigator 30 August, 2012, 13:59

    LOL sure I am!

    Reply this comment
  8. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 30 August, 2012, 15:19

    Poodle time for substance.We thirst for any smiggen of wisdom you’re capable of scribing.

    Last chance!

    Reply this comment
  9. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 30 August, 2012, 15:29

    I will call Ed for you teddy 😉

    Reply this comment
  10. Edward Steele, Chief Investigator
    Edward Steele, Chief Investigator 31 August, 2012, 08:42

    Poor Poodle— Day 10 for him of no posts on Cal Pensions—- Sadly I had to take him out, or did he take himself out? Hmmmmmm

    Reply this comment
  11. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 1 September, 2012, 00:21

    Poor Teddy, Day 11 for him and the puppets of NO posts on Cal Pensions- Sadly I had to tell Ed to take Teddy out-so sorry so sad too bad Teddy !

    Reply this comment
  12. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 1 September, 2012, 11:54

    I had a take-home government vehicle for over 25 years. It allowed me to conduct official business at odd hours and on weekends without the extra overtime expenses that would have been required for me to go downtown, check out an official vehicle, conduct my business, return the vehicle, etc. The taxpayers got a deal for it in terms of offset costs.

    One day people will relearn those old lessons again.

    Reply this comment
  13. gray squirrel
    gray squirrel 26 September, 2012, 11:23

    You should look at the cost of rental vehicles.Example Dept F&A had a fleet of older State pickups to use seasonal. The DGS trucks were leased to Dept F&A $330 per month. The trucks were taken away, now when they need a truck they must rent one from rental co at $900 to $1500 per month. Due the math.

    Reply this comment

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