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Dire state revenue forecast could force special session

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In the coming days, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire will provide lawmakers with a list of budget-cutting options. It’s a first step in what could lead to a special session of the legislature before the year is out.

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The move follows a surprise revenue forecast that's punched yet another hole in the current two-year state budget. 

Governor Gregoire’s recent 6% across-the-board cuts won’t be enough. The state now needs to carve another nearly $400 million from the current state budget to keep it in the black. Gregoire says she can’t do it alone, and will need the legislature’s help.

The question is: will lawmakers convene in a special session in December? Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Ed Murray said that largely depends on the governor’s budget balancing proposal.

“Our ability to figure out how to move forward is really dependent on her making a proposal about the changes we should make and the cuts we should make,” said the Seattle lawmaker.

But Gregoire has also set a November 29th deadline for legislative leaders to provide her with a list of possible cuts. Gregoire has said she won’t call a special session unless she’s assured lawmakers can get in and out within a couple of days.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.