The California Department of Transportation has also been the target of discussions regarding wasteful spending, having bought hundreds of vehicles that have not been used, he said.
Portantino on Wednesday succeeded in pushing forward a plan that would freeze salaries for government workers making more than $150,000, including California State University system employees.
The bill was approved by the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Committee.
The legislation would freeze the salaries for two years, beginning Jan. 1, 2011, and save the state about $17 million, according to a legislative analysis.
“To me, at a time when we’re raising student fees and making it harder for kids to go to college, you would think that the highest paid state workers would be willing to share in the burden to solve our state’s fiscal crisis,” Portantino said.
The lawmaker is also pushing for creation of a new state office for an inspector general that could scour the budget and help eliminate wasteful spending and inefficiency, as occurs in other states, he said.
“There are some reports that that’s in the billions, and so we’re trying to create an office of independent oversight, and right now the state auditor does not have the ability to have oversight over the state Legislature,” he said.
Other government reforms could also help the state avoid similar budget problems in the long term, including adopting a series of proposals put forth by California Forward, area lawmakers said.
The group had proposed the elimination of the Legislature’s two-thirds majority vote requirement for approving a budget. But the Legislature has since created a committee to analyze the proposals anyway.