States are slashing health-care services, laying off police officers, releasing prisoners early and taking other drastic steps to cope with the worst budget deficits in 50 years. In addition to cutting services, about half the states have raised taxes and fees, although strong anti-tax sentiments have blocked some of the efforts. Experts blame the deficits on everything from the stumbling economy to the recent federal tax cuts to the states' heavy spending during the 1990s boom years. The red ink is expected to persist in the years ahead, but the experts also disagree about how best to get back in the black. Proposals range from privatizing state and local services to radically cutting back on Medicaid services for the poor. Meanwhile, California voters go to the polls on Oct. 7 to decide whether to recall Gov. gray Davis, whom many blame for the state's budget woes.