ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - It's time to start talking cash at the Minnesota Capitol.

Budget officials were preparing to release the state's economic forecast Friday. It provides a critical look at Minnesota's financial standing that will determine whether a Republican-controlled Legislature will have a budget surplus or deficit to work with in 2017.

That number will set the stage for negotiations for a two-year budget between Republicans and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton. But budget work won't begin in earnest until after state officials release a final update in February.

Dayton says he's expecting a smaller surplus than the $1.2 billion sum they had in 2016. Republican Rep. Jim Knoblach says he's also expecting a surplus.

The Legislature will convene Jan. 3.

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