A bill sponsored by State Senator Jeff Van Drew to reduce the number of vehicles in state government by 10% each fiscal year for five consecutive years stalled yesterday in the Senate Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee.

State Police cruiser

Officials with the Communication Workers of America, the largest union of state workers argued that taking away state vehicles could complicate insurance situations for workers and cost them money. Van Drew vows to work with the unions to ensure them that neither of those things would happen.

Unions say if state workers were forced to use their own cars they would only get reimbursed 31 cents per mile, the maximum allowed by the state. The federal reimbursement rate is 55 cents per mile. Van Drew has an answer for that concern.

"Under the bill, no one would have to drive their personal vehicle," explains Van Drew. "This is about (State) Departments sharing vehicles. Everyone who needs one would still be driving a state vehicle……Maybe we would look into leasing vehicles."

Van Drew says other states share vehicles from Department to Department. His bill calls for selling all unneeded vehicles and putting the revenue generated into the general fund. The Senator says it wouldn't make sense to have state workers use their own cars and be reimbursed 55 cents per mile because that would end up costing more than the state is paying to fuel up and maintain the vehicles it has now.

"Maybe it's not possible to reduce the fleet 50 percent, but let's look towards a goal and if we can't do that let's see what we can do," says Van Drew. "I'll bet you dollars to donuts one thing though. We can reduce the size of that fleet and we can save money. Of that I'm sure. The bottom line, the purpose of this bill is to maximize the efficiency of our vehicle fleet and save the taxpayers' money."

Van Drew's legislation would direct the state Treasurer, within six months of the bill's signing, to have a cost analysis of the state vehicle fleet prepared by an entity with expertise in the area of fleet management. Within three months of the Treasurer receiving the analysis, a state panel would review and approve, or modify, the recommendations in the cost analysis.

The panel would adopt a plan for reducing the number of state vehicles by 10 percent each year for 5 consecutive fiscal years, or as otherwise adopted by the panel in its plan.

If the panel determines its reduction goal could not be realized in five years, it would be required to explain the reason and identify a time period for the goal to be met, not to exceed an additional three years. Future vehicles to be added to the fleet, not including replacement vehicles, would need approval from the panel, under the bill.

The measure would also require a reduction in funding for state vehicle accounts in the annual Appropriations Act for each fiscal year of the plan, beginning with the fiscal year commencing six months after the plan adoption. Proceeds from the sale of any vehicles would be deposited into a fund that is dedicated to the relief of state debt or to assist in the funding of capital improvement projects undertaken by the state. State Police, Gaming Enforcement, Division of Law and Public Safety and vehicles and equipment used for construction, maintenance or emergency services would be exempt from the legislation.

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