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Connecticut Leaders, Malloy Concede A Special Session Is Needed To Finalize Budget

Legislative leaders and Governor Dannel Malloy met on Thursday and agreed to a special session before June 30 to hammer out a new two-year budget. But what does that mean for the rest of the regular legislative session?

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz conceded that Republican and Democratic lawmakers and the governor are not even close to an agreement on how to close a projected $5 billion budget deficit for the next two fiscal years.

"Not to say we're not going to try, but reality is setting in that we may find ourselves in a special session," Aresimowicz told reporters on Thursday.

Aresimowicz said that reality will have an impact on the rest of the legislative session. He said the House will likely only call up bills for a vote that are budget neutral.

"Policy, which otherwise has a great goal, is going to find itself on the back burner, or not being able to pass because of the fiscal note it requires," he said.

Aresimowicz said the House will take up the casino bill before the end of the regular session. The measure would allow the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes to jointly operate a casino off tribal lands. The bill already passed the Senate last month.

The House of Representatives took up a number of Senate bills Thursday that had no fiscal impact on the budget.

Lawmakers are attempting to find creative ways around the fiscal note problem. For example, a bill that would have imposed fines on people smoking at state parks was amended by Senate Democrats to eliminate the fine for smoking. It would also eliminate a one-time fee less than $30,000 for signage meant to warn people about the smoking ban. But the evenly-divided Senate couldn't agree on the measure, and it was eventually shelved.

No word on when the special session would convene. The regular session ends Wednesday at midnight.

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