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An eventful term

California budget woes are just the latest struggle since Liu's election.

May 27, 2010|By Zain Shauk

For nearly all of state Sen. Carol Liu's term in office, she has had to deliver bad news to officials in La Cañada, Glendale and Burbank.

Trouble began shortly after Liu's election in 2008, when the national economy went south. California state officials worked last year to close a combined deficit totaling $60 billion, and some of the lawmakers' solutions directly affected cities.

Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) met with city officials from her district, which includes Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, Pasadena, San Gabriel, Temple City and parts of Los Angeles.

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"What she told us was there was a need to share the pain," said Glendale City Manager Jim Starbird.

The message has come to dominate Liu's experience in the Senate .

The most recent challenge for Liu and state lawmakers was a deficit projection last week of $19.1 billion, which Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed to close by, among other changes, eliminating some services for the state's most vulnerable populations.

The 68-year-old La Cañada resident served three terms in the Assembly, from 2000 to 2006, before being elected to replace Jack Scott in the 21st Senate District. She is chairwoman of the Senate's budget subcommittee on education, among others, and is the lone representative for Glendale and Burbank.

With no representative in the Assembly since Paul Krekorian vacated his seat to take a position on the Los Angeles City Council, Liu has often been singled out in the region for her stances related to the state's finances.

But instead of putting increased pressure on Liu, area officials say they have accepted her role in a flawed budgetary process that has been fueled largely by party politics.

"[The budget crisis] is involved and complicated," La Cañada Flintridge Mayor Donald Voss said. "We know she is working hard, and it is not easy for anyone."

Liu came into office aiming to improve the state's services for students and women, she said. Instead, the budget has become her main concern and has often left her explaining proposals for spending cuts to local officials, including one that she voted for resulting in a combined loss of $27 million from redevelopment agencies in Glendale and Burbank.

"No one likes to vote for cuts, but when you don't have revenues you're not left with choice," Liu said.

Anger and confusion at the state's proposed budget solutions have often been aimed at the Legislature and governor as a whole, officials said.

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