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Negotiations begin

8 March -- Lawmakers representing both parties from the House and Senate did meet yesterday and today to try and hammer out a budget compromise. The talks were cloaked in secrecy, but apparently involved more than just the six lawmakers named earlier; the Governor's office was also represented, as was the Senate majority leader. The talks continue as the clock ticks on the school funding gap and the General Fund deficit.

No details have emerged from the sessions, but both further cuts, and new revenue sources, are surely on the table. There are also reports that some House Democrats are mooting a temporary increase in the income tax, accompanied by an increase in the personal exemption; this is aimed at making any tax increase more progressive (in contrast to the feared regressive nature of the sales and proposed services taxes). Senate Republicans quickly expressed doubts about such a plan.

The House Democratic leadership is apparently frustrated with the Governor's 15 March deadline for a compromise; House Speaker Andy Dillon (D-Redford Twp.) said that the talks had been productive but that he doubted the working group could "fix everything" by the 15th.

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