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State lawmakers to convene for special session Saturday

Gov. Chris Gregoire has called a special session of the Washington Legislature Saturday at 9 a.m. to enact emergency budget cuts to reduce the state's deficit.

Lawmakers have yet to bridge a $1.1 billion budget gap for spending through June 2011 and will convene next year to begin discussing the 2011-12 budget.

According to the Associated Press, lawmakers have a plan to cut out $784 million of the deficit. Of that, $200 million would come from previous cuts ordered by the governor, $200 million in federal education dollars would be moved to cover the state's general fund, and additional budget cuts to cover the rest.

The Legislature spent much of this year cutting spending to help narrow the gap, but low returns in tax collections have ballooned the budget deficit further.

In the last few weeks, Gregoire has requested plans from leaders of both parties in the state House of Representatives and Senate to reduce the shortfall. But, lacking in concrete proposals, the governor decided to call the special session.

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