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Washington state deficit will top $8 billion

OLYMPIA — Washington’s tax revenue is expected to drop another $2.3 billion through mid-2011, pushing the state’s projected deficit to about $8.3 billion, state officials said Thursday.

The rapidly worsening deficit will almost certainly force legislators to begin discussing plans for new taxes. But that’s no slam-dunk: Voter-approved tax limits would require new revenue streams to be sent to the ballot, in the middle of a lingering recession.

The new revenue projection was unveiled late Thursday afternoon in a special meeting of the state’s economic forecasters.

Gov. Chris Gregoire has proposed a no-new-taxes budget that cut more than $3 billion from state expenses. But the deficit has now grown by about a third.