Gov. Rendell is notifying nearly 80,000 state workers today by email that they will stop being paid in the event of a budget impasse -- but should continue showing up to work.

The budget must be passed by July 1 or the state loses its power to spend money. Most state workers would stop receiving paychecks on July 17th (for hours worked after midnight June 30th) -- although they would receive the pay once a budget is struck, Rendell wrote.

"I know that delayed pay would present a significant financial challenge for many of you," the governor wrote in his letter. "I wanted to provide you with as much advance notice as possible so that you might begin planning for this potential disruption."

Added Rendell spokesman Chuck Ardo: "We certainly are hopeful that this eventuality will not come to pass but feel obliged to give the workforce as much notice as possible to give them an opportunity to prepare for a worst case scenario."

No budget has been passed on time since Rendell became governor in 2003. This year, the administration and Republicans who control the state Senate appear to be heading towards another showdown, with GOP senators taking the position that the governor's proposed budget plan needs to be sharply cut back.

Republicans have proposed an alternative budget that is nearly 6 percent less than the governor's plan, but the administration and Democrats who control the House have have been sharply critical of it because it would reduce state funding for public schools, welfare and economic development programs.

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