Budget negotiations begin with governor, Democrats and Republica - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Budget negotiations begin with governor, Democrats and Republicans

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(WFSB file photo) (WFSB file photo)

Ideas ranging from selling recreational marijuana to bringing back tolls to building another casino were on the table as Connecticut lawmakers and the governor try to fix the state’s huge deficit.

The current proposals for the two-year spending plan also have cuts to cities and towns and more than a billion in labor concessions.  

The negotiations took place between Gov. Dannel Malloy and leaders on both sides of the aisle.

There are just three weeks left in the session. Democrats seem optimistic and said 85 percent of the work is done. However, the GOP said it doesn't see it that way.

The Democrats and Republicans released their revised budgets on Tuesday while the governor released his one on Monday.

The Democrats’ budget doesn't increase income, sales or corporation taxes, but allows at least one additional casino, legalizes retail marijuana and would bring tolls back. 

"I don't see it as throwing spaghetti against the wall. All three of these issues have had public hearings,” House Majority Leader Matt Ritter said. “They've been around for years to come. It’s not like we picked them out of thin air."

Reaction to these proposals is mixed.

"It's about time to legalize marijuana. It’s effective,” Dan Fogerty, of Enfield, said. “It’s safe. Other states are doing it. We could have another revenue stream."

"I have a ten-year-old daughter and I was talking to her,” Diane Brunoli, of Vernon, said. “She came home from school and asked me what it was, so it’s even being talked about in school. That worries me."

Republican House of Representative leaders proposed a revised budget they claim ensures every Connecticut community will receive an increase in local school funding. They're also calling for additional labor concessions beyond the $700 million Malloy has been trying to secure. Republicans are critical of pot casinos and tolls and Democrats are once again just throwing things out there.

"This is another example of democrats doing a Bernie Madoff scheme," Senate Leader Len Fasano said. "[They] promise revenue that's not going to come in, spend money they don't have and when ceiling caves in like we are seeing now, they blame everyone else." 

Both Democrats and Republicans are hoping to find ways to make up the deficit with a common theme in mind: mitigating cuts to cities and towns.

Lawmakers and Malloy hope it will pass before the General Assembly adjourns in early June. 

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