State Senate scraps budget deal

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A day after pushing back a vote on a state budget, lawmakers in Hartford returned Friday, only to have talks break down by early evening.

Three Democrats rejected their own party's plan and sided with Republicans. Among them was Sen. Gayle Slossberg, of Milford. They said they could not back a plan with new taxes that did not make major structural changes to the way Connecticut spends its money.

The failure came as a surprise to Sen. Bob Duff, who earlier in the day said he thought he had full support from Democratic members of the Senate.

The Republican alternative -- with no tax hikes -- went to the Democratically controlled state House of Representatives, where lawmakers convened around 8:45 p.m. and expected a long night.

If it makes it to the desk of Gov. Dannel Malloy, he said he would block the Republican plan.

"I believe the amended budget that passed in the Senate today is unbalanced, and if it were to reach my desk I would veto it," Malloy said in a statement. "It relies on too many unrealistic savings, it contains immense cuts to higher education, and it would violate existing state contracts with our employees, resulting in costly legal battles for years to come."

The state Senate began debate on the Democratic bill at 3:15 p.m. and it failed to win enough votes before 5 p.m. 

The plan had called for higher fees on cigarettes and ride-sharing services. It also had a tax on second homes designed to target wealthy people who move out of state to avoid paying Connecticut income taxes. It also would have imposed a monthly tax on cellphones at 49 cents per line, and would have created a new authority that could add electronic tolls without legislative approval.

It also cut spending on wealthier school districts, but not as deeply as previous proposals.

Connecticut has been running without a state budget for more than two months. If lawmakers fail to pass one by Oct. 1, a new round of spending cuts will kick in.

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