State Democrats present budget cuts

HARTFORD - A plan put forth Wednesday by Democratic lawmakers in Hartford would cut more than $1 billion from the state budget in an effort to bridge the fiscal deficit.

"This is $1 billion. We cut another [$600 million] before that, so we've made some big changes," says House Speaker Chris Donovan (D-Meriden).

Democrats, who control the General Assembly, say the plan incorporates some proposals from Gov. Jodi Rell and ideas from Republicans lawmakers. The Democrats say their latest plan, unlike the governor's proposal, doesn't hurt social services and would leave intact health insurance for children and prescription drugs for the elderly.

"We sat down and instead of just taking surface cuts, said let's look at what is really going on here," says Donovan. "We found the dollars. We didn't sacrifice energy, environment and health care for seniors. We didn't sacrifice that."

But the state's Republican governor found the plan lacking.

"The Democrats' plan is a disappointment on a number of levels," says Rell. "They have had weeks to put together a real plan and this falls short.

"But it is a plan nonetheless, and I will continue to work with the Legislature to address our fiscal problems in a responsible, real way."

This latest deficit plan covers the fiscal year that ends June 30. The following two fiscal years are estimated to be in deficit by as much as $8.7 billion.

AP wire services were used in this report.

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