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Tolls, weed, casino, and taxes: Democrats, Republicans unveil revised budget plans

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HARTFORD -- Budgets proposals from both houses and parties were unveiled at the state capitol Tuesday.

Republican House leaders are proposing a revised budget they said ensures every Connecticut community will receive an increase in local school funding.

"This is the hardest thing any of us have done, having said that, yeah this is difficult, but it can be done, we have put budgets together that have no tax increases, that have held towns and cities harmless and I think if you want to sit down and make the tough decisions, you can find a way to do that," said State Rep. Themis Klarides, Republican House Minority Leader.

They contend their proposal doesn't raise taxes and mitigates municipal aid losses by reallocating funds.

It comes a day after Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy released an updated budget that changed how education funding is distributed and reduced overall aid to cities and towns by $362 million more than his original budget from February.

Democratic legislative leaders are proposing to legalize the retail sale of marijuana, authorize at least one new casino and "pave the way for tolls in Connecticut" as ways to balance the state's deficit-plagued budget for the next two fiscal years.

"When we’re talking about cutting services to the folks who need it the most, we’re talking about cutting municipalities that fund education and local projects, not to put those on the table is a big mistake and we showed that by putting it in our proposal for the budget," said State Rep. Joe Aresimowicz, Democratic Speaker of the House.

New revenue projections showed the deficit for the fiscal year beginning July 1 had grown from $1.7 billion to $2.3 billion.

House and Senate Democrats said their plan does not increase the sales, personal income or corporation taxes.

The Republican plan does not legalize the sale of marijuana or authorize at least one new casino or institute tolls, as proposed Tuesday by legislative Democrats as ways to balance the state's deficit-plagued budget for the next two fiscal years.

The various plans will be the basis for bipartisan budget talks that will begin Wednesday.

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