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Gov. Malloy calls for bipartisan hearings on budget cuts

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HARTFORD -- Almost four months after Connecticut's new budget passed, Gov. Dan Malloy announced more cuts are likely.

New figures out of the budget office Monday have the state's deficit now at $118.4 million, which amounts to roughly half of one percent of the overall budget. That number was released just weeks after the governor announced $103 million in budget cuts.

The governor told reporters during a press briefing the dismal numbers can be attributed to a downturn on Wall Street and to a lack of increase in personal income levels.

This time, he doesn’t want to swing the budget axe alone. Malloy is now calling for bipartisan talks, which he says could lead to a special session.

"More hard decisions are going to have to be made,” said Malloy. “I'm here to say we should make them together, with each party involved."

Malloy said everything will be considered, including labor. Currently the state is currently negotiating with all but one unit. Those contracts are up July 1.

"They're going to be very tough negotiations and yes everybody has to be at the table including labor,” said Malloy.

There is one thing the governor says he will not consider: “Tax increases are off the table, this is not a discussion about increasing taxes, no,” said Malloy.

Malloy said the budget he presented in February went father in cuts than what was eventually passed by the legislature.

The deficit news comes after months of Republican leadership calling for bipartisan talks and a special session to address the state's growing budget problems.

"We're happy the governor's done this,“ Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano said in response to Malloy’s call for talks.

Republicans say they're happy they've been called to the table for the negotiations.

However, Fasano contests the deficit number Malloy's office released; he believes it could be as large as $400 million.

"We have a lot of ideas and would love to share them,” said Fasano, “but we have to agree with what it is."

Democratic leadership thinks the bipartisan talks are a productive move.

The highest-ranking member of the Senate, Martin Looney, pointed to across the board cuts as a possibly the solution. He also feels everything is on the table, and unlike the governor, he wouldn't rule out tax increases.

"I don't think there is any appetite for any tax increase at this time,” said Looney, “but at the same time the programs that are likely to be affected by cuts are also programs that have broad based support as well."