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Towns and Cities Fear Collapse of Budget Deal

It is looking increasingly likely that an all-important budget deal between Governor Dannel Malloy and state union leaders will fail. Should that happen, the governor will have to find more than a billion dollars to balance the state's budget. One union has already rejected the labor savings and concessions deal. It's possible another will do the same. And that would mean that the state would suddenly have to find $1.6 billion in savings over the next two years. Malloy has said he doesn't plan to raise taxes to get there. "But I think you'll see them come back and hit municipal aid if for no other reason than because he's said all along it's a likely target." That's Keith Phaneuf, a reporter who covers the capitol for the Connecticut Mirror. "I think that's also a way to put political pressure on the unions, even if it's after they've already sunk this, just to quite frankly vilify them somewhat or at least assign blame, maybe is a better way to put it."

Whatever the reason, advocates for the state's towns and cities are nervous. Jim Finley is the head of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. "If the talks fail and state employees reject reasonable concessions, it's going to be their municipal and teacher brothers and sisters at the local level that are going to pay the price. The so-called easy spending cuts have already been made in the adopted budget. We're going to get into bone and marrow now in regard to programs that help towns and cities and help our poor and needy populations." Malloy's budget team is preparing a plan to present to legislators should the labor deal not be ratified.

Jeff Cohen started in newspapers in 2001 and joined Connecticut Public in 2010, where he worked as a reporter and fill-in host. In 2017, he was named news director. Then, in 2022, he became a senior enterprise reporter.

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