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Political Landscape:

Liu ready to tackle state budget

December 20, 2008

Liu, like most Democrats, and a few Republicans have said lawmakers need to make difficult choices in the coming months to avert a looming fiscal crisis. Analysts have said that if the state cannot balance its books by February, California may run out of money.

“You can’t cut $40 billion out of the budget without hurting a lot of people,” Liu said. “When you take revenue away as one of the issues to resolve the problem, it makes it more problematic.”

Besides the budget, Liu, who served in the Assembly from 2000 to 2006, is also facing the daunting task of getting to know an enormous district of more than 800,000 residents that spans the eastern edges of Pasadena to the western San Fernando Valley.

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“I need to get caught up,” she said.

Assuming that the Legislature can move on from its marathon budget talks, Liu, 67, said she wants to improve transportation and education and work within the district to beef up its environmental portfolio.

The senator said she favors the extension of the Metro Gold line in Pasadena and plans to work with local schools and cities to “green the 21st District for the 21st century.”

Liu has already been appointed chairwoman of the Senate’s Health and Human Services subcommittee and wants to increase the scope of career technical education and funding for public education throughout the district and state.

To help fund her ventures, Liu hopes for an infusion of federal funds that could be coming with the administration of President-elect Barack Obama, who has pledged a massive public works program and hinted at another economic stimulus package.

Without saying how much she thinks California might receive from an Obama White House, Liu did say she was “optimistic” that the state would receive its fair share of federal dollars.

“We’re the biggest economy and the biggest state in the country with the biggest needs,” she said.

Representative questions credit agency’s loans

Rep. Brad Sherman joined a group of bipartisan members of Congress this week in calling on the nation’s official credit agency to stop handing out loans to companies that do business with Iran.

The Sherman Oaks Democrat, whose district includes Burbank, asked that the Export-Import Bank of the United States stop financing Reliance Industries Limited, a company Sherman said sells oil to Iran.

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