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Legislative Leaders Speed Up Budget Schedule
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The leaders of the House and Senate say they are not waiting for Governor Jodi Rell's budget proposal before they start work on a spending plan for the next two years. They are moving up budget hearings and decisions during the upcoming legislative session.

The General Assembly will begin holding hearings this week on the governor's proposals to close the current $356 million deficit, with plans to vote on them next Wednesday.

After that, legislative leaders want to get right into considering proposals to close the expected $6 billion deficit in the next biennial budget -- even before Governor Jodi Rell proposes her budget in early February.

Chris Donovan is the incoming House Speaker.

"We want the committees, finance and appropriations, to start that process immediately."

Those committees will also have to finalize their budget proposals two weeks earlier than usual -- in early April - to leave time to settle any potential disagreements with the Governor's office or Republican lawmakers.

For now, Donovan and Senate President Don Williams would not rule out any program cuts, tax increases, or even borrowing mechanisms. What is nearly off the table, Williams says, are requests for new spending. 

"Any proposal that costs money, that doesn't pay for itself, is almost assuredly dead on arrival."

Donovan and Williams say they're not expecting the expedited timeline to lead to an early passage of the two-year budget. They say given the economic circumstances, finalizing the budgeting process by the end of the session in June would be a tremendous achievement.

The governor's office did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.