Talks of tax relief may not start up again for some time.

AUGUSTA (AP) – On the spending reduction front, a brief respite before deliberations begin. But on the tax relief side, talks may be off for a while.

Legislative budget writers Friday discussed the final portions of the Baldacci administration’s $109 million budget-balancing package as four days of public hearings drew to a close.

Consulting committees were given little more than the holiday weekend to settle on their own recommendations and report back to the Appropriations Committee.

The first of the reports are due Tuesday morning, a few hours before Gov. John Baldacci delivers his State of the State address in the House of Representatives chamber.

Meanwhile, Baldacci’s office let it be known that on-and-off discussions between the administration and the advocates of the tax relief referendum measure he has opposed appear to be off – at least until after the legislation session.

Gubernatorial spokesman Lee Umphrey said talks with representatives of the Maine Education Association and Maine Municipal Association had been productive, “but they’re not close to a final agreement.”

Behind-the-scenes negotiations on property tax relief have been conducted since the Nov. 4 statewide vote on whether the state should increase its share of school aid from 44 to 55 percent.

The 55 percent proposal fell short of being enacted immediately in November, and a second vote looms in June.

Baldacci and supportive lawmakers have been looking for a way to satisfy at least part of the push for a reduction in the property tax burden while avoiding what some estimate to be the $250 million cost of increasing the school subsidy all at once.

Advocates of the pending initiative have pegged the state’s contribution toward total K-12 expenditures now at about 44 percent.

AP-ES-01-16-04 2011EST