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Budget Talks Get Underway 

Monday was the first chance the public had to comment on the governor’s plan to close a $570,000,000 shortfall in the state budget.Members of the appropriations committee heard strong objections to governor Baldacci’s proposed budget.The governor’s plan is designed to reduce the general fund spending by $300,000,000.New initiatives would include $70,000,000 less in local school aid, $60,000,000 less in potential tax breaks, and two dozen government shutdown days.Baldacci would use $75,500,000 from the state rainy day fund and nearly $41,000,000 in other reserves to offset shortfalls through June 2011.