ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota lawmakers are gearing up to make a deal on funding road and bridge repairs.

The Legislature wrapped up last year's budget without finalizing a transportation package that officials pegged as a top priority. They return in early March for a two-month session. A panel of House and Senate members met Monday to kick-start negotiations.

But there's still a wide gap between competing plans. Senate Democrats are calling for a gas tax increase and higher vehicle registration fees to boost transportation funding. House Republicans favor tapping a budget surplus and shifting existing taxes on like on car part sales to a dedicated fund.

Lawmakers noted the large divide heading into session. Republican Rep. Mark Uglem says he hopes they won't wait until the last minute to finalize a deal.