- Associated Press - Monday, October 9, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut’s Democratic and Republican legislative leaders said Monday they are moving closer toward reaching a possible bipartisan budget deal, contending that “tremendous strides” have been made during recent closed-door negotiations.

The lawmakers met for most of the day Monday and plan to continue talks on Tuesday. Connecticut has been without a new, two-year budget since the fiscal year began July 1.

“I think we’ve made tremendous strides … we’re getting closer,” said Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano of North Haven. “We’re certainly having very good conversations.”

Democratic Senate President Martin Looney of New Haven said it’s possible a vote by the General Assembly may happen sometime next week.

Democratic House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz of Berlin said lawmakers are backing down on some issues they probably wouldn’t have in March, April or May. He said the Connecticut Legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis estimates the two sides are about $100 million apart. The two-year budget, which is expected to be roughly $40 billion, is projected to have a $3.5 billion deficit.

“We’re all bending in an effort to get to the budget,” Aresimowicz said.

Last month, the closely divided Legislature narrowly passed a Republican budget proposal with the help of a handful of Democrats. Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy later vetoed that plan, saying it significantly reduced or even eliminated funding streams for the state’s highest need and lowest performing school districts, among other criticisms.

Lawmakers on Monday began reviewing different options for state education aid and said they expected to discuss them further on Tuesday.

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