Gov. Gray Davis is overstating the state's budget deficit by nearly $9 billion, California's nonpartisan legislative analyst said Wednesday.

Elizabeth Hill issued a report estimating the state's revenue will be at least $26 billion short over the next 18 months. Davis has predicted a record-breaking $34.6 billion.

Hill is the Legislature's top economist, while Davis relies on his Finance Department to shape the budget.

In her initial analysis of the $96.4 billion spending plan the Democratic governor released last week, Hill said her office uses different techniques than the Finance Department for measuring the state's economic outlook and which programs must continue to be funded under the law.

Republicans have accused Davis of exaggerating the state's crisis to push tax increases through.

Davis aides defended the governor's figure Tuesday, saying his economic team calculated the projected deficit a month later, with more updated revenue information and different methods than Hill used.