ST. PAUL (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 Republican and Democratic Governor Mark Dayton, but budget work wont' begin in earnest until after state officials release a final update in February.

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

The legislature will convene January 3.