Governor Hangs Up State Cell Phones

Gov. M. Jodi Rell is telling state employees to hang up their state-issued cell phones unless they absolutely need them.

Gabbing on the state’s phones cost more than $4.5 million in 2008, almost $2 million more than it did in 2006.

How did we get to this point?

The number of cell phones has exploded in the last 14 years. In 1994, the state had less than 500 wireless devices on the books. Today, there are more than 10,000 cellular devices, including phones, aircards and BlackBerry devices, Rell said.

"Our cell phone bills have grown by leaps and bounds in recent years," Rell said. "Technology is a wonderful thing - but it comes with a price, and that price is too high for the state to support right now.”

Part of the problem is that some people are too wireless. Some people are carrying both a cell phone and a pager or a cell phone and a BlackBerry, Rell said.

The phones must come off the hook in 30 business days and there will be a freeze on any new cellular services except in urgent or emergency cases.

The cell phone cuts come just days after Rell said she is stopping the state’s almost $40,000 in magazine subscriptions to help deflate the state’s ballooning debt.

The state is facing a nearly $922 million deficit for this fiscal year.

“We will not compromise agency missions or put ourselves in jeopardy in the event of a disaster. But taxpayers deserve to know we are not spending their money on pricey cell services they themselves cannot afford," Rell said.

The Department of Information Technology will issue monthly reports on agency cancellation orders and plan changes.

Annual state cellular expenditures, according to CORE-CT data:

FY 2005: $3,366,187.06

FY 2006: $2,577,296.56

FY 2007: $3,789,948.75

FY 2008: $4,513,223.54

FY 2009: $2,285,098.92 (First six months)

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