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Jerry Brown says he'll slash $6.4 million from own office budget

The governor abolishes the first lady's office and pares staff in Washington and Sacramento. The austerity moves come as he prepares to unveil a state budget that is expected to propose cutting billions in government services.

January 08, 2011|By Anthony York, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Sacramento — Gov. Jerry Brown said Friday that he would slash $6.4 million from his own office budget, abolishing the first lady's office, paring staff in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., and shuttering field operations around the state.

He also eliminated the position of secretary of education, which he has singled out as an example of bureaucratic redundancy because the state already has a superintendent of schools and a board of education.

The moves came as Brown prepared to unveil a state budget Monday that is expected to propose cutting billions of dollars in government services.

"California is facing a huge deficit and it is necessary to find savings throughout all of government," Brown said in a statement Friday. "We all have to make cuts, and I'm starting with my own office."

Brown's state budget will request cuts to public schools, universities, health and welfare programs and other government services, according to people familiar with his plans. It is also expected to include a call for a special election in which voters would be asked to extend billions of dollars in sales, income and vehicle taxes to stave off further reductions.

Among the sacrifices Brown said his office had already made was forgoing $650,000 for the transition to his new job from his previous post as California's attorney general. He used empty space in the attorney general's office in November and December, spending just $120,000 on transition-related activities.

In addition to the secretary of education, Brown eliminated other posts that held considerable power under previous administrations.

The job of cabinet secretary, a senior advisor, is gone, along with all of the deputy cabinet secretary positions. Brown had already announced that he would get rid of the state inspector general. He also closed three field offices, in San Diego, Riverside and Fresno.

And although he did away with the office of first lady, Brown had named his wife, Anne Gust Brown, as an unpaid special counselor earlier this week.

Brown's cuts go far deeper than any enacted by his predecessor.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger came into office vowing to "blow up the boxes" of state government. He undertook a review of the bureaucracy in 2004 that he said would save the state more than $6 billion a year. The vast majority of the resulting recommendations were never enacted.

Administrative spending under Schwarzenegger was never substantially cut. During his first full year as governor, 2004, his office had 188 employees and an annual budget of $18.4 million. The office now has 202 positions, with a budget of just over $18 million.

Schwarzenegger reduced costs per employee partly by mandating furloughs that effectively cut salaries by about 15%.

Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said there would be no furloughs in the new administration. But he said all appointees in the governor's office would be subject to a 5% pay cut — roughly the equivalent of one unpaid day per month.

Brown said his overall office budget would be $13.4 million.

anthony.york@latimes.com

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