HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - State lawmakers on Wednesday opened the 2009 Connecticut legislative session, which promises to be one of the most difficult in recent memory given the state's worsening financial situation.
      They're facing state budget deficit that's estimated at $343 million for this fiscal year and $6 billion for the two years that begins July 1.
      They have an electorate that is already suffering from the national financial crisis. Since August of 2008, there have been an average of 1,000 home foreclosures a month in Connecticut. Also, the state's unemmployment rate is the highest it has been in 15 years, at 6.6 percent.
      "The people of Connecticut have put their trust in us to represent them in this crucial time in our history," Senate President Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, told his fellow senators. "As we make our way in the months of the ahead we must be worthy of that trust."
      Gov. M. Jodi Rell, a Republican who faces an even larger Democratic-majority in the General Assembly this year, was to address the House and Senate later in the day. She is scheduled to unveil her new, two-year-budget on Feb. 4.
      Rell is expected to urge lawmakers to work together to solve the budget crisis - a sentiment that's been echoed by Democrats and Republicans in recent days.
      "By working together we can better meet those challenges," said Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, as he seconded the nomination of Williams as Senate president.
      Lawmakers have said they plan to vote on a two-year budget plan before the session adjourns on June 3, hoping to avoid past fiscal battles that have dragged through the summer. Meanwhile, the legislature plans to vote Jan. 14 on Rell's plan to address the current fiscal year's deficit, estimated by state Comptroller Nancy Wyman at $343 million.