BOSTON (AP) — The top Massachusetts House budget negotiator in state budget talks says he's "optimistic" but isn't predicting when a breakthrough might occur.

Massachusetts is the only U.S. state without a permanent budget in place. The government has been running on a stopgap budget since the state's fiscal year began on July 1.

House Ways and Means Chairman Jeffrey Sanchez, a Boston Democrat, told reporters on Wednesday that House and Senate negotiators were working to resolve differences over the $41 billion spending plan "as quickly as possible."

House Speaker Robert DeLeo has called on negotiators to separate out policy discussions over issues including immigration and focus only on spending priorities.

Sanchez declined to say if DeLeo's suggestion had been broached with his Senate counterparts. The budget talks are being held behind closed doors.