HARTFORD - (AP) - Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed an executiveorder Tuesday to keep the government in Connecticut running whenthe new fiscal year begins Wednesday, without a two-year budget inplace.

While she contends the average taxpayer won't notice any change, leaders of cities and towns fear delays in state grants that fundeverything from road repairs to local education.

Rell, legislative leaders and their budget staffs spent about nine hours holed up at the executive residence on Tuesday, the third day in a row they've attempted to reach some consensus on a new budget that covers a massive deficit, predicted to be as much as $8.8 billion for an approximate $37 billion to $38 billion plan.

As of 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, a budget agreement had not been reached.

Rell, in a written statement, said she's hopeful they will resolve their differences over the budget "in the very near future," but did not provide any details. Both Rell and state lawmakers have agreed not to discuss the talks publicly. A House Democratic spokesman said they planned to resume talks on Wednesday.