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Liu and Gatto react to Brown's inauguration

January 06, 2011

State lawmakers representing Glendale and Burbank said Gov. Jerry Brown's inaugural speech on Jan. 4 set the tone for what will prove an austere year in the state capitol.

State Sen. Carol Liu (D- La Cañada Flintridge) said Brown is better able than his predecessor to lead California out of the depths of what is now estimated to be a $28-billion budget deficit.

"I thought it was very refreshing to have somebody just speak the truth and make a plea that we Californians need to solve these issues," Liu said.

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A champion of social service programs such as CalWORKS and In-Home Supportive Services, Liu knows those programs will be in for hard times. She said that later this month she will convene a meeting of leaders involved in child welfare services.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reduced funding for the programs in a line-item veto a week after the state budget passed in October.

After Schwarzenegger blue-lined the funds, Liu said "a lot of us were running around saying, 'How can we save this?'"

In the meeting this month, Liu said, she will emphasize that the state is unlikely to have matching money for some programs partially funded by the federal government, and that it is time to focus on only those programs that do the most for families in poverty.

"I don't know all the answers, but I've asked staff and the Health and Human Services Agency to take a harder look, and be smarter with less money," she said.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) said he found Brown's speech inspiring, as it helped prepare a nervous public for a difficult task ahead.

"I thought the governor indicated very strongly he is going to approach this crisis with seriousness and candor and calm, and I think calm is very important at times like this," Gatto said, who added that he thought Brown's promise not to "embrace delay and denial" was especially welcome.

Gatto has already introduced measures intended to dial back the initiative process, reforms that he said will have positive fiscal results.

"We've passed ballot initiatives in years past that promised the world but ended up spending money in perpetuity," he said.

The assemblyman will also turn to some local issues with his legislative efforts, he said. For example, he said the Glendale Police Department approached him about making it easier for local authorities to address speeding and traffic problems on city streets.

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