HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Malloy is starting something he hasn’t done since he was first elected; he’s beginning a state-wide series of town meetings with the aim of re-booting, re-shaping and downsizing state government because of what he calls ‘a new economic reality.’

In an exclusive News 8 interview, the Governor says the state budget turmoil of the past twelve months is not unique to Connecticut. In fact, about two dozen states are having the same kind of cash flow problems because of the nation’s slow growth economy.

Legislative Committees have just begun the task of clawing through the Governor’s budget that cuts nearly everything 5.75 percent. In the aftermath of the GE decision to move to Boston the Governor is getting positive feedback from the business community on his proposals especially the no tax hike promise.

This graphic prepared by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association using Office of Fiscal Analysis numbers paints a dismal picture for the next three years. The red line at the bottom represents estimated tax and other revenue coming in to state government. The blue line represents spending going out if nothing is done. A half billion dollar deficit next year that’s why the Governor is calling for about half a billion in spending cuts.

“Republicans and Democrats and Independents around the country have though that our ‘recovery’ from the ‘Great Recession’ would be like every other ‘recovery’ and it’s not. This is a permanent, ‘slow growth,’ or at least, a long term ‘slow growth’ economy,” says the Governor.

The budget writing legislative committees have been put on notice that even with that huge cut this year it will take another 9 percent cut next year.

“That number will very much be impacted by whether there is or is not growth a year from July 1st, or whether we can project it. Right now we’re saying ‘let’s be conservative, let’s assume no growth,” said the Governor.

The more than 500 non-profit groups that counsel and otherwise aid those with mental health and developmental issues are saying that the cuts will devastate their ability to help those most in need.

The Governor responded, “It’s not going to happen, first of all we’re going to take care of our citizenry. We are concentrating on that population and we’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen. Don’t be surprised around this building that people yell that ‘the sky is falling,’ I mean that’s the ritual. What’s their alternative? That we just tax everybody and…you know, last person here turn out the lights?”

The Governor said earlier this week that he won’t know how many state employees will have to be laid off until sometime in April because that’s a traditional month for a large number of retirements. Once he has that number he says he’ll know how many more will be getting pink slips.