SALEM — State Economist Tom Potiowsky says the Oregon budget deficit has grown to $850 million for the current biennium and will top $2.5 billion for 2009-11, forcing even deeper cuts than anticipated.

In a quarterly forecast to the Oregon Legislature today, Potiowsky predicted a decline of about $100 million more for the current biennium than his preliminary forecast last month.

Lawmakers have been waiting for his full forecast before moving forward with a list of budget cuts to state agencies.

Budget writers have said they'd like to have a bill on the governor's desk within the first week of March.

The legislature has already outlined some likely cuts, including more than an additional $100 million to K-12 education that could mean five fewer days of school for Oregon students.

— The Associated Press