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Senator fields budget questions

Taxes were needed to pass budgets, which would keep ‘head above water,’ she says.

April 01, 2009|By Veronica Rocha

BURBANK — Sen. Carol Liu answered questions from residents about education, health care, the state’s budget and deficit, and new tax hikes during a town hall meeting Saturday.

Adult education student Alejandro Plata, who lives in Huntington Park, heard rumors in school that it could be closing because funding approved from the state budget only finances kindergarten through 12th-grade instruction, he told Liu.

Plata, who is a high school dropout, can’t afford to lose his schooling because he said he wants to graduate.

“If it wasn’t for adult education, I don’t know where I would be,” he said.

But Liu said she didn’t have any easy answer for him.

School districts are responsible for funding adult education, not the state, she said.

School administrators must decided whether they can support those programs in their district, Liu said.

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Plata understood that the state couldn’t do anything to save adult education if districts wanted to cut the programs, but said he is still hoping that something can be done.

Plata’s question was one of dozens asked by Glendale, Burbank and surrounding cities’ residents at the town hall meeting in the Buena Vista Library in Burbank.

The meeting was also an opportunity for Liu to talk to residents about new bills about child care and education and environmental accountability that she has introduced or plans to present.

The bills include getting Medi-Cal health care coverage for foster youths between ages 18 to 21; protecting people with disabilities from being victims of crime by conducting background checks on caregivers and providing better training for medical and law enforcement professionals; keeping records of children whose parents were incarcerated and allowing them to call their parents; and making the California Career Resources Network more efficient.

Others bills on Liu’s 2009 agenda are changing prisoner release times to evening hours instead of late night hours; a tax for graffiti removal and on the sales of graffiti tools; and reducing the cost of textbooks.

Glendale resident Sako Kassabian asked Liu if there was a way to organize all nonprofit and city organizations to work together to help the homeless.

His group, Unshakable Ministries in Glendale, has been looking to partner with other groups to help the homeless, he said.

She told him homelessness is more of a local issue and cities have programs in place similar to what he was asking for.

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