HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Montana legislative staffers say the Republican-led budget committees have so far surpassed the Democratic governor's main budget in proposed spending.

The House Appropriations Committee started work Wednesday on the state's main budget bill.

House Bill 2 has been massaged over the past two months by subcommittees that looked at each agency.

Republican legislative leaders have said publicly their top priority is reining in spending. They are also separately proposing several tax cuts.

But staff analysis released Wednesday shows the Republican-led budget now exceeds Gov. Steve Bullock's total spending request by about 1 percent.

The appropriations committee will spend several days looking over the measure, potentially making changes, before sending it to the House floor.

Bullock says spending and tax cuts must be balanced in order to retain a surplus.