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Malloy cautiously optimistic of imminent budget deal

By KEN DIXON

Connecticut Post

HARTFORD — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he is eager to review a budget compromise from legislative Democrats and Republicans, but warned Wednesday that he'll be on the lookout for gimmicks before anything comes to a vote in the General Assembly.

Speaking with reporters for the first time in nearly a week, the governor said he was encouraged by the reported progress in the closed-door discussions between GOP and Democratic leaders, who met throughout the day Wednesday and into the evening.

At about 7:40 p.m., the leaders emerged from their talks to say the negotiations continue amicably, but inconclusively.

“I think that's a good thing,” Malloy said. “I'm encouraged that if there is an agreement between the leaders that it will come back and we'll have some further discussions. I will say that whatever is contained in that document has to be free of gimmicks and games and pension steals and the like. And I would expect that, since we've made that known all along.”

Malloy said his staff is in the final phases of writing up a fifth budget since his initial spending plan offered the General Assembly in February.

He said he is not sure when he would unveil it, but it includes fewer taxes and more spending cuts. He does not support the use of a $2,500 annual teacher fee, which the recent GOP budget would have put into the General Fund rather than the teachers' retirement fund.

After a narrow passage of a GOP budget last month because of a handful of Democratic votes, Malloy vetoed the two-year $40-billion spending plan, sending lawmakers back into negotiations.

Malloy said he has spoken with Democratic leaders on the status of negotiations, but is not privy to the full extent of negotiations.

“It is very difficult for the state to build a sustainable level of progress without taking on hard issues,” he said. “When you spend about 25 percent of all your expenditures in support of local government, including teacher pensions, it's hard to come up with the kinds of savings by cutting out 25 percent of the budget.”

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.

 

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