Concerns linger as state lawmakers near budget deal

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After months of gridlock, Rep. Joe Aresimowicz posted a Facebook picture of white smoke at the Vatican -- the signal that cardinals use to show that they've chosen a new pope. After months of gridlock, Rep. Joe Aresimowicz posted a Facebook picture of white smoke at the Vatican -- the signal that cardinals use to show that they've chosen a new pope.
FAIRFIELD -

The speaker of the state House of Representatives may have signaled Wednesday that lawmakers are finally close to a budget deal, but some local lawmakers fear it will cut their state funding.

After months of gridlock, Rep. Joe Aresimowicz posted a Facebook picture of white smoke at the Vatican -- the signal that cardinals use to show that they've chosen a new pope.

State lawmakers previously scheduled a vote for Thursday, although not all of the details on the thousand-page budget have been finalized. Part of the problem is plugging a $3 billion budget gap.

Gov. Dannel Malloy says negotiations are close, but nothing is definite.

Gone from the deal are proposed hikes in the state sales tax. But taxes may go up on cigarettes and luxury home sales, which are already struggling in western Connecticut. And there's a proposal to raise taxes on cellphones by up to $1 a month.

"I don't think there's ever been a budget that's perfect, and I don't think perfection should be the target, but I think we should do the most good for the most people with the least amount of money," Malloy says.

Democrats have a razor-thin majority in Hartford, and they need almost all party lawmakers to support the budget for it to pass. But some conservative Democrats say they are wary of the tax hikes.

The potential deal could cut spending in school districts across the state, including in Fairfield, where town leaders are worried.

"We're talking about a budget vote tomorrow. Nobody knows what it is," says Mike Tetreau, Fairfield's first selectman. "Why don't we have a week to look at it? Why don't we have two weeks to look at it?"

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