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State leaders meet to discuss growing budget deficit

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HARTFORD -- Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Connecticut legislative leaders have kicked off what they acknowledge will be challenging state budget negotiations.

The Democratic governor met more than an hour Tuesday with top Democratic and Republican members of the General Assembly.

Lawmakers emerged from Malloy's state Capitol office offering scant information, other than they plan to eventually meet again and hope Malloy can reach a $700 million labor concession agreement with state employees. Those talks are still ongoing.

"Are we going to raise taxes here in the State of Connecticut I would imagine we do in some way, shape or form. But what form it takes on is going to be very important," said Democratic House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz. "It’s important to our caucus. They want a plan."

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides says the group had "to start somewhere and today was our starting point.'' She would not predict whether a bipartisan agreement can be reached.

Projections released Monday show the next two-year budget could be $5 billion in deficit.

"We need to bring our expenditure levels into alignment with our revenue levels," said Malloy earlier in the morning. "This cannot be a revenue driven discussion. I have acknowledged many times that revenue might be part of it but it’s not a revenue driven decision. We need to get our economic houses in order."