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Budget Impasse Continues at Capitol
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Democratic and Republican lawmakers met with the governor to talk about the budget on Thursday, and in what many described as a heated meeting, but there were no breakthroughs.

This is what we know: the General Assembly has two major budget decisions before them. First, how to close the more than 900 million dollar deficit for the fiscal year that ends the end of next month. Second, they have to settle on a new two-year budget.

With less than two weeks left in the regular session, legislative leaders don't agree with the governor on either. And their frustration boiled over as they talked to reporters in a capitol hallway.

"We put $2.4 billion worth of cuts on the table," said Senate President Don Williams.

"We have a billion dollars more than that," chimed in House Minority Leader Larry Cafero.

"And the negotiators have not agreed on a single dollar of cuts yet," quipped Senate Minority Leader John McKinney.

By the end of this week, they said they hope to agree on whether to borrow or use the rainy day fund to eliminate the last of this year's deficit. Then comes the heavy lifting of sorting through what they acknowledge are ideological differences --- how much more to cut, and how much to raise taxes for the next two years. There's an $8.7 billion hole to fill.

For her part, Governor Rell acknowledged this latest budget meeting got hot at times. She said it was clear people needed to vent. "I think a lot of the air was cleared, and hopefully that can move along very quickly," she said.

But when asked if she expects a budget on her desk by June 3, she just smiled, paused, and said, "it is always my eternal hope."