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Lawmakers Try to Fill Budget Gap
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Facing a nearly $550 million budget gap, Connecticut state lawmakers gathered at the capitol in Hartford for a special session called by Governor Jodi Rell.  But just as quickly, they adjourned without taking up Rell's deficit mitigation plan, or their alternative Democratic plan.  WNPR's John Dankosky reports.

Democrats, who control both houses of the legislature, say they plan to call their own session - maybe before Christmas - to try and fill the hole.  They've panned the proposal put forward by the Governor, saying it inflicts pain on pooor families, children and the elderly by cutting services, and also cuts aid to cities and towns.  House majority leader Denise Merrill also told WNPR's Where We Live that the state is missing an opportunity to grab federal stimulus money.

"And the administration has been very inactive, trying to get these moneys into the state, and that is one of the things we're urging the administration, they have to simply go after some of this money so that we can get through this recession and start focusing on big long-term changes."

House Democrats say they're working on their own plan that would not cut as deep - by asking Rell to negotiate a delayed contribution of $100 million to the state employee pension fund.  A spokesman for the Governor called the plan "shameful." 

And Larry Cafero, the Republican house minority leader says without cuts to the size of government now - the state will fall in a deeper hole - not just this year - but entering its next budget cycle.

"The more current services that we cut back on presently, the less of a deficit we're going to have in the future. That's why the only alternative we have is to cut spending."

So, how big is that hole?  State Comptroller Nancy Wyman:

"In 2012, we know we're walking in right now without anything else going down, with at least a $3 billion deficit."

And that number's based on a forecast for economic recovery ... she says it could be worse. 

For WNPR News, I'm John Dankosky.