State Sen. Joseph Zarelli told the Associated Press that Washington’s budget gap may soon reach $7 billion.

Zarelli is the ranking Republican member on the Senate Ways and Means Committee. His forecast is higher than the $5.7 billion estimate that Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire used last month when she proposed her $33.5 billion 2009-2011 budget. The gap is the difference between the state’s projected income and the cost of providing current services.

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