Budget plans begin to form in Wash. Legislature

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington budget writers are beginning to formulate plans to deal with the state’s $1 billion shortfall.

Senate Democrats met Wednesday morning to discuss specific proposals while House Democrats eyed a rollout of their ideas next week.

Lawmakers are also getting good news with fewer people relying on state services and the economy showing signs of stability. Republican Sen. Joe Zarelli says he expects a revenue forecast to be released Thursday to show a combined benefit of about $500 million.

That financial boost is about the equivalent of what Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed in new taxes. Leading Democrats declined to say Wednesday what the new forecasts will mean for taxes or what specific cuts they are looking to make.