Christine Stuart file photo
Speaker of the House Chris Donovan and Sen. President Donald Williams (Christine Stuart file photo)

The legislature’s top two Democrats asked Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell to sit down with them Monday and finalize a budget, but Rell said negotiations are not far enough along to have a conversation.

“The challenges we all face are unprecedented and it no longer makes sense to leave negotiations to others,” Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, D-Meriden, and Sen. President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, wrote in this letter.

“While you note that there has been ‘some progress’ in negotiations, that progress has regrettably been painfully slow and pitifully small,” Rell wrote back in this letter.

Neither Rell or the two top Democrats have been at the negotiating table yet. The co-chairmen and ranking members of the Appropriations and Finance Committees have been negotiating with Rell’s budget office.

“The simple fact is that I proposed $1.6 billion in spending cuts in the budget recommendations I delivered on February 4 and offered an additional $1.3 billion in cuts last week. To date, after countless meetings over six weeks, Democratic negotiators have agreed to just $58 million in cuts for Fiscal 2010 and $134 million in cuts for Fiscal 2011 – a fraction of my proposals that I am hard-pressed to positively characterize as ‘some progress’,” Rell wrote.

Democrats said they are concerned by the amount of money that Rell has proposed borrowing, in addition to the one-time revenues from federal stimulus grants. They said Rell wants to borrow and use one-time revenues totaling $5.2 billion, while their budget calls for $3.8 billion from those same funding sources. Rell said Democrats want to tax residents and businesses $3.1 billion, which she believes is too much.

“I have said time and again that I will not consider tax increases until significant cuts in state spending are made,” Rell wrote in her letter.

“We believe that both sides are open to compromise but it will take amicable talks, not angry news releases, to get the job done,” Donovan and Williams wrote. “We are eager to sit down with you -in a spirit of cooperation and bi-partisanship- and reach a budget deal for the people of Connecticut.”

“When you show a genuine willingness to make deep and meaningful cuts in spending, I will gladly sit down with you,” Rell wrote back. “Two more days remain in this legislative session. I encourage you to pass a budget.”