- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Democratic and Republican legislative leaders agreed Wednesday to revisit Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s recent mid-year budget cuts to hospitals and social service programs as they negotiate a plan to address the state’s nagging shortfall.

Malloy and the lawmakers met privately for about an hour and said they ultimately agreed the current $20 billion budget is about $350 million to $370 million in the red. That figure includes the $103 million in cuts Malloy announced in September, which met strong opposition agencies and hospitals.

“I think going forward, we feel very strongly about including that $103 million of rescissions from September in this number and that’s why the number came up to $350 to $370 (million),” said House Minority Leader Themis Klarides.

Hospitals and social service agencies have warned that Malloy’s reductions will harm services. The Connecticut Hospital Association on Wednesday unveiled a multimedia campaign, including TV ads and a website called www.StopTheCutsNow.org. Jennifer Jackson, the association’s CEO, said hospitals have “reached the breaking point” after five years of reductions and taxes.

“We’re urging the governor to restore the funding,” Jackson said. “This is about patients and we need to stand up and speak more loudly and make sure everyone hears our message.”

Malloy stood by his $103 million in reductions.

“Apparently some folks aren’t in agreement with that, so they have a harder job than I do,” he said.

Legislative leaders are expected to meet again with Malloy next week and bring suggestions for alternative spending cuts. Malloy has already put forth some additional ideas, including reducing the state workforce by 500 employees through mostly attrition.

If an agreement is reached, a special legislative session on the budget could be held in the coming weeks. The next regular legislative session doesn’t begin until February.

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