Governor Brown Eliminates “S.W.A.G”


Memo bans state spending on key chains, stress balls, ashtrays, t-shirts and other “freebie” items

SACRAMENTO – Governor Jerry Brown’s administration today directed all state agencies and departments to stop spending taxpayer dollars on free giveaway and gift items—such as key chains, coffee mugs and squeeze toys—as part of continuing efforts to cut costs and tackle the state’s budget gap.

“Not a cent of taxpayer money should be spent on flashlights, ashtrays or other unnecessary items, most of which likely end up in landfills,” said Governor Brown. “Every taxpayer dollar we save by cutting waste is a dollar that can be used to pay for critical public safety and social services.”

A statewide review revealed that from 2007 to 2010 state agencies and departments spent a total of $7.5 million on items including key chains, squeeze toys, pens, hats, trinkets, shirts, cups and other gift items known colloquially as “S.W.A.G,” or “Stuff We All Get.” These include promotional and marketing items across almost every agency in the state.

Today’s ban follows Brown’s request earlier this week for the Bureau of State Audits and the Little Hoover Commission to each provide a list of “Top 10 Actions” California can take to cut government waste and increase efficiency.

The Governor has also issued Executive Orders to freeze hiring across state government and cut state cell phones and the passenger vehicle fleet in half.

These actions are part of Brown’s efforts to save money this fiscal year and to cut $363 million in operational costs next fiscal year.

A breakdown of “S.W.A.G” expenditures from 2007 to 2010 is below.

S.W.A.G Expenditures 2007 -2010 Amount
Business, Transportation & Housing Agency $5,088,037.00
State and Consumer Services Agency $1,154,960.00
Health and Human Services Agency $778,678.00
Department of Food & Agriculture $175,530.00
Labor and Workforce Development Agency $129,012.00
California Volunteers $77,387.00
Environmental Protection Agency $48,317.00
Emergency Management Agency $41,810.00
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation $12,201.00
Department of Veterans Affairs $4,968.00
Total: $7,510,900.00