Fate of state budget remains up in the air

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HARTFORD -

After a day of frantic behind-the-scenes negotiations, the fate of a new Connecticut state budget appeared to be up in the air late Thursday night.

Shortly before 11:30 p.m., House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz rushed past reporters, telling them he was no longer sure he had enough votes lined up in his own party. Just hours earlier, Aresimowicz and Senate President Martin Looney announced they had a deal in place and promised a vote Thursday night.

Aresimowicz also said final budget documents would not be ready until Friday morning. Republican leaders called it "disrespectful" to ask lawmakers to vote on an 800-plus-page budget that few of them had even seen yet.

As of Thursday night, there were still no details released about how much money individual towns, cities, and school systems would get in the budget plan.

The budget deal includes a new tax on cellphone bills, at 49 cents a month per line. Cigarettes would go up 45 cents a pack, but gone is a controversial tax on e-cigarettes. Also gone is a tax increase on luxury home sales, although the state would for the first time collect a tax on "seasonal" homes. Sales and restaurant taxes would stay the same.

The state Senate was expected to take up the budget on Friday.

If lawmakers fail to pass a spending plan by Oct. 1, even deeper cuts could hit towns across western Connecticut.

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