Talking about a $2 billion deficit in Washington can seem unreal -- it's a number almost too big for the average person to imagine, but one that might have very real consequences for thousands of Tri-Citians.
And it's the number that will be the focus of lawmakers' discussion and debate as the Legislature convenes in a 30-day special session Monday to tackle that deficit before it ordinarily would meet to write a supplemental budget starting in January.
The actual shortfall between projected revenue and the biennial budget as written is about $1.4 billion, but Gov. Chris Gregoire is asking lawmakers to cut enough to leave $600 million in reserves.
A budget proposal released last Monday by Gregoire suggested cutting more than $500 million from K-12 and higher education, including reducing the K-12 school year by four days; cutting more than $690 million from health and human services, including eliminating Basic Health Plan coverage for 35,000 people; and cutting off state-funded food stamps for low-income people, among myriad other cuts.