What's $300 Million Between Friends?

Emergency Special Session of General Assembly Begins Today

State lawmakers are back at work.  The General Assembly has begun an Emergency Special Session to hammer out a plan to close a $300 million budget deficit.  They're meeting behind closed doors to work out some of the details.  Governor Rell also wants to help cities and towns weather the financial storm.

The Hartford Courant is reporting that former U.S. Representative Rob Simmons may see his job as the state's business advocate cut from the state budget.

Among other ideas, the governor wants to cut spending, cancel new projects that are in the works, and institute a hiring freeze and travel ban.

One snag could be over a plan to funnel an estimated $28 Million on unclaimed bottle deposits to the state.  Beer and soda distributors get that money now.  They argue if they lose that revenue, they may be forced to cut jobs.
Governor Rell has four proposals to help Connecticut municipalities:
1.  Allow for a tax amnesty plan that would allow local  towns and cities to pay the back tax and face any penalties or fines. 
2.  Allow towns and cities to use statewide purchasing power more often to cut costs.
3.  Tighten binding arbitration deadlines for municipalities to reduce the cost of such cases.  
4.  Extend "Bond Anticipation Notes" sold by towns and cities from 8 to 10 years. Thousands are coming due in the next year or so and extending the duration of the loans will give municipalities more time to pay them off.
Governor Rell also wants to see a second economic stimulus check in the hands Connecticut residents. Leaders of the Democrat-controlled legislature say they support about 90 percent of the deficit mitigation plan proposed by the governor.
Legislators are expected to approve a budget plan later today.

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