Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, a Democrat from the Southern California, has been trying again and again to take a sensible symbolic action: freeze the salaries of the highest-paid public workers.
Bonuses and raises for public employees who are already making at least $150,000 -- which is Portantino's proposal -- are only like to stir up public resentment in an era of perpetual budget crisis and cuts.
But the proposals can't seem to get anywhere. An Assembly committee shelved the proposal Wednesday morning -- the seventh failed attempt at a freeze, according to Portantino's office. Portantino had sought to amend the bill to freeze salaries of anyone making at least $100,000 -- in response to criticism that his previous proposals won't save much money.
Even the lower number won't save much. And such gimmicks don't begin to address the state's systemic budget problems. But with Democrats demanding tax extensions and increases in the current budget debate, symbolic steps such as these are, at the very least, good politics. (Which is why President Obama has embraced a similar freeze on the federal level.)