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Malloy Urges Conn. Lawmakers To Make Schools Safer

"Let's resolve as Democrats and Republicans to serve as a model here in Connecticut and lead our country in a new and better direction," said Senate President Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn.

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, who credited the "spirit of Sandy Hook" with inspiring battling lawmakers to set aside their partisanship last month and reach a budget-deficit fix, said lawmakers should carry forward that spirit and remember the tragedy over the coming months of the five-month-long legislative session.

"That could be our greatest tribute to those heroes and angels who sacrificed their life back in Newtown," he said. "That could be our greatest tribute, to respect each other's opinions, to be tolerant, to listen, to be patient, to be kind, to be giving."

Malloy has convened a task force to review state laws and policies affecting guns, mental health and school safety in the wake of Sandy Hook. It is scheduled to release preliminary recommendations in March. Meanwhile, members of the Democratic controlled legislature are already proposing changes such as bans on high-capacity magazines and a special sales tax on ammunition.

Legislative leaders from both parties planned to set up their own commission that will review possible legislation stemming from the shooting and come up with a possible package that could be considered in late February or early March, said Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield.

Besides Sandy Hook-related issues, lawmakers also must tackle a new two-year budget. The first year, which is expected to be about $20 billion, is projected to be $1.2 billion short.

But Malloy said Wednesday that Connecticut already fixed "more than 90 percent of the problem" when it passed a two-year budget in 2011 that raised taxes, included labor concessions and cut spending.

"Anyone who tells you that the budget we passed two years ago didn't do its job, that it didn't make real change in how we approach our finances, is simply not telling the truth," Malloy said.

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