Gov. Janet Napolitano on Wednesday ordered state agencies to begin the first series of spending cuts aimed at eventually saving $30 million a year.
Napolitano directed that as many communications as possible be done through electronic mail, faxes and Web hosting rather than printing and mailing messages and reports. She also ordered that state vehicles that are little used be given back to the Department of Administration and, if appropriate, sold.
The governor also ordered all agencies to eliminate unnecessary travel, finding other ways to share information.
But Napolitano bristled when reporters began questioning her own travel and her own use of a state airplane.
Napolitano defended her use of the state plane as "the best use of my time to meet with Arizonans at every corner of the state."
For example, she cited a trip last week to Window Rock to meet with the Navajo Tribal Council. The governor said it was a choice of a 50-minute flight or more than a five-hour drive.
The governor’s order was the first step in her "efficiency reviews" program, where all state agencies will be examined to find ways to save money. Work is now half-way done on the first three agencies: The departments of corrections, revenue and economic security.
She said some of the preliminary ideas from these agencies, including more than 2,000 employee suggestions, make enough sense to be applied now to all state agencies. Napolitano said the first round of savings total $3.6 million — a number that seems small in a $6 billion General Fund budget but a number that the governor said will make a difference as lawmakers look to eliminate programs to balance next year’s budget.
That $3.6 million, she said, "will enable us to pay to keep home and community-based services for 2,100 seniors."