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Treasurer Pinching Pennies By Cutting Cars, Cell Phones

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Illinois State Capitol

Illinois State Capitol buillding in Springfield (AP Photo)

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) – Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford said Thursday that he’s cutting his office’s budget by pinching pennies wherever he can.

A new broom sweeps clean, they say, and Rutherford – who took office three months ago – was not too modest to brag about the small savings of, for example, using old stationery with his predecessor’s name blacked out.

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“The dollar amount we’re going to save with this, in the overall budget of $53 billion, is negligible. But it does two things. Number one, it says that if you can do for less in government, you should do it,” Rutherford said. “And number two, I think it is indicative to tell the public of Illinois that your agencies of state government are tightening down as best they can, like you do in a small business.”

Rutherford told reporters at a news conference in an Illinois State Capitol parking lot on Thursday that his office is cutting its motor fleet in half – from 12 vehicles to 6.

The number of state-paid cell phones in his office is going from 36 to 10.

Rutherford admitted the savings are small, particularly in light of the multi-billion dollar state deficit, but he said that people at home are tightening their belts the same way.

He also said new technology helps his office run more efficiently.

“The world is different. The use of Blackberries back four years ago and eight years ago is different than they are today. And you’ve got iPhones today that didn’t exist eight years ago,” Rutherford said. “So, rather than my predecessor’s waste, I’d rather say it’s us addressing what today’s differences and efficiencies are. I’ve taken advantage of that.”

Rutherford said it’s cheaper to have staff members who travel use their own cars and get reimbursed for mileage.

The six vehicles he is giving up will be used elsewhere in state government or auctioned off.

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