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Lawmakers passed a Democratic plan to close the state's latest budget deficit, even though Gov. M. Jodi Rell and her fellow Republicans claimed it falls far short of what's needed to balance the books.

The proposal by the majority Democrats, approved on Monday along mostly party lines, still leaves the state with a $137 million deficit — and the governor with the task of deciding how to cover the remaining red ink.

Sen. Dan Debicella, ranking Republican on the Legislature's budget-writing committee, accused the majority Democrats of "punting" to Rell the hard decisions about which programs to cut.

"Today we are trapped in 'Groundhog Day,' where again we have a bill before us that does not close the full deficit," said Debicella, of Shelton.

Democrats maintain the governor has not done enough to reduce spending within her agencies, such as reducing middle management. They claim the bulk of the deficit can be blamed on overspending by the administration, not just a decline in tax revenues.

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