Senate continues debating state budget proposal tonight - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Senate continues debating state budget proposal tonight

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Connecticut has been without a state budget for 117 days. (WFSB) Connecticut has been without a state budget for 117 days. (WFSB)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB/AP) -

The Connecticut Senate got a late start Wednesday night debating a state budget agreement, as they are possibly moving closer toward ending a months-long budget impasse.

As of Wednesday, Connecticut has now been without a state budget for 117 days, however, lawmakers said they are planning to vote on the two-year, approximately $40 billion plan on Wednesday. 

The Senate was scheduled to convene Wednesday at 7 p.m., but they got started a little later.

They are discussing the 1,400-page document that is still not 100 percent complete. The state senators were caucusing on Wednesday and trying to get all of their members on board.

On Wednesday afternoon, members of the finance committee were still working on numbers, only a few hours before a much anticipated vote on a state budget.

Last week, the legislative leaders announced a tentative agreement.

"The stakes were very high for this budget. We are proud after having a caucus with our members to say again we will have the vast majority of our members voting for this," House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz said.

Connecticut faces a $3.5 billion dollar deficit and there has been a power struggle between Republicans and Democrats. 

The GOP leaders said they good with what was accomplished.

"I'll say this that in the past 50 years of Republicans pushing to get structural changes out there, I think we probably did more in this budget than we have done in the entire time I have been here," Minority Leader Themis Klarides said. 

Democratic Senator Cathy Osten said cuts to cities and towns is far less than what was first proposed.

"I think anybody who looks at this budget is going to find a reason to vote against it and there are also reasons to vote for it,” Osten said. “So you have to decide on what’s in the best interest in the state of Connecticut and a bi-partisan budget is in the best interest of the state of Connecticut."

While a final budget has not been released, the plan does include a spending and a bonding cap as well as legislative voting on all union contracts. 

As for taxes, there are increases in the cigarette tax, possibly a hospital tax and a new fee for state parks. There is also a controversial proposal to eliminate the car tax. 

Republican Senator Len Suzio said he still feels the GOP backed budget that passed last month was a better one.

"I took a pledge to the voters in my district. I said I am not going to vote for a tax increase to balance the budget,” Suzio said. “It’s a mistake the legislature has made before its backfired before."

The governor was given more budget details late Wednesday. 

 "A budget is a whole bunch of line items and I do not have a complete picture anywhere near a complete picture," Gov. Dannel Malloy said. 

Late Wednesday afternoon, two Republicans said they were against tax increases and that could that hurt chances of this passing. 

In order for this bi-partisan agreement to pass the Senate, it needs 19 votes, but 24 to protect against a possible veto by the governor.

If the budget bill clears the Senate, the House is expected to go into session at 10 a.m. on Thursday.   

The state has been without a two-year tax and spending plan since July 1. 

Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.