Lottery buying new cars despite governor’s effort to pare state fleet

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Before he won voter approval of a tax increase this month, Gov. Jerry Brown was touting his campaign against wasteful spending, including his 2011 order to reduce the fleet of state-owned cars and trucks.

Brown in January 2011 ordered government agencies to halt new car purchases and sell non-essential vehicles, declaring, ‘There is a lot of wasteful spending on cars that aren’t even driven,’ and adding, ‘We can’t afford to spend taxpayer money on new cars while California faces such a massive deficit.’

The order barred new car purchases unless they are necessary to protect the health and safety or security of the public or provide crucial services and functions. Three weeks after voters OK’d the tax measure to plug the deficit, the state Lottery Commission, which is appointed by the governor, agreed Wednesday to spend $1.29 million to buy 50 new vehicles.

The purchases would replace 23 cars and vans that have exceeded the state’s replacement criteria, which is 130,000 miles for passenger vehicles, according to Robert T. O’Neill, director of the California Lottery. The other 27 purchases will allow the state agency to expand its fleet, which is currently at 228 vehicles.


The new cars will be used by sales representatives and investigators, and comply with the governor’s order because the purchases were cleared with other state officials, said Russ Lopez, a spokesman for the Lottery. O’Neill told the panel in a written report that there are pros and cons to buying new cars. The pros, he wrote, include providing the equipment necessary for Lottery staff to do their jobs and allowing the Lottery to increase sales.

The cons? ‘May subject the Lottery to press inquiries,’’ he wrote and, ‘May be seen as inconsistent with efforts to reduce state vehicle fleet.’


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--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento