Majority Democrats in the state Senate broke ranks today with their Democratic colleagues in the House of Representatives, announcing they would vote within a few days on their own proposal to close a $500 million-plus shortfall in the current state budget.

“The current stalemate is unacceptable,” Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, wrote in a statement released early this evening. “Democrats must present an alternative and break the log jam.”

Senate Democrats, who hold 24 out of 36 seats in that chamber, warned their House counterparts late last week they were considering adopting a plan to close the $518.4 million deficit projected for this fiscal year with deeper programmatic cuts than House Democrats have been willing to support.

“Senate Democrats are working hard on finding solutions to the current budget crisis and will vote on a deficit-mitigation plan that fully balances the current year deficit by the end of this month,” Williams wrote.

Even if the legislature wipes that red ink off the books before the fiscal year ends in just over three months, a larger, $725.7 million deficit is being projected for 2010-11. And a mammoth $3.88 billion shortfall is being forecast for 2011-12, the first budget that the next governor and legislature must craft.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell offered a deficit-mitigation plan earlier this month, but that proposal drew criticism from House Democrats in particular because of proposed cuts to social services, health care and town aid.

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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