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Gov. Jerry Brown said this afternoon that he has taken 29,398 state-issued cellphones from state employees, a 44 percent reduction.

Brown made headlines around the state when, within days of taking office, he ordered the return of half the state's cellphones by June 1. The executive order, the first of Brown's third term, was one of several popular, heavily symbolic measures Brown has used during the budget crisis to demonstrate his frugality.

Brown's office said in a release that further reductions will be made by next month to reach the 50 percent reduction Brown sought.

"We've eliminated tens of thousands of cellphones and saved taxpayers millions, but we're not done," Brown said in the release.

Brown turned in his own state-issued cellphone when he issued the executive order. His office said he had reduced by 75 percent the number of phones issued to employees in his office.

Brown's office estimated the state would save at least $13 million if 33,359 cellphones, or 50 percent, are retrieved.

The office said it is reviewing 4,916 requests from agencies for exemptions from the executive order. Brown said he will deny those requests or, if they are granted, require deeper cuts in other agencies.

Brown's office said 67,117 cellphones are covered by the order, fewer than the 96,000 originally estimated. The reduction owed, among other things, to 11,300 phones being housed at state entities not under Brown's authority, and to 8,700 phones already having been eliminated or deactivated.


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