By Associated Press - Monday, November 16, 2015

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Suspending Connecticut’s public campaign financing system for the 2016 elections, imposing some Medicaid cuts and tapping the state’s rainy day fund were among ideas suggested Monday by legislative Democrats to balance the state budget.

Democratic legislative leaders released a list of $350 million in deficit-cutting ideas, which they said still maintain critical state services and protect the state’s most vulnerable residents.

“Although there are no easy solutions, this proposal is a balanced approach that respects our priorities while recognizing our current fiscal realities,” said House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the General Assembly’s minority Republicans have also publicly released short- and long-term proposals for addressing Connecticut’s budget deficit problems. Lawmakers and Malloy are hoping to come up with a bipartisan plan to eliminate the shortfall in this year’s $20 billion budget, estimated at $350 million to $370 million.

A special legislative session may be held next month to approve such a plan.

While Democrats balked at Malloy’s plan to cut about $102 million in Medicaid to hospitals and human service programs, their proposal would still reduce Medicaid by $30 million. There are also smaller reductions spread throughout social service programs, including teen pregnancy prevention, the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and mental health services.

The Democratic plan transfers $35 million from the state’s approximate $400 million rainy day fund, while saving $11.7 million by suspending the public campaign financing program for next year’s state legislative races.

Cuts are also proposed to numerous education programs, tourist attractions, environmental initiatives and job training programs. Some of the ideas, such as overtime reduction and delaying managers’ pay raises, mirror those suggested by Malloy or the Republicans, which House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said was encouraging for the negotiations.

Legislative leaders and Malloy are expected to resume bipartisan talks later this week or next.

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