HARRISBURG - With just one day left to achieve an on-time state budget and no further talks planned, the impasse between Gov. Wolf and the Republican-controlled legislature seems certain to end in a partial government shutdown.
On Monday, Wolf sent letters to state employees and contractors preparing them for the likely outcome of Pennsylvania's missing Wednesday's deadline to enact a spending plan for the new fiscal year. Though missing the deadline by a few days - or even weeks - would not have repercussions, a protracted impasse would restrict the state's ability to spend and pay bills.
And with both sides seemingly entrenched, it remains unclear how quickly they can strike a deal.
In his letter, Wolf told state employees that come Wednesday, they should report to work, and that he did not anticipate any delays in paying them.
The news for contractors, as well as nonprofits and local governments that rely on state funding, was not as positive. The administration has said that by mid- to late July, funding would likely be halted.
"We understand the possible hardship you may experience in balancing your own budget, and we will do everything in our power to ease that burden," Wolf wrote.
But negotiations remain stalled, and Republican leaders have crafted a $30.1 billion budget proposal to send to Wolf - one he has said he would veto.
Nonetheless, legislators have spent the last few days positioning the GOP-backed budget plan for final approval, which is expected Tuesday.
Republicans are also advancing two other plans that Wolf has said he cannot support: one to privatize the sale of wine and liquor, the other to change pension benefits for all new state and public school employees.
All are expected to be sent to Wolf by the end of the day Tuesday. What happens after that is a question mark.
Neither Wolf nor legislative leaders have said whether negotiations will resume once the governor strikes down the Republican plan. It is not even known whether the legislature, which traditionally breaks for the summer once it passes a budget, will attempt to override Wolf's veto, or even stay in Harrisburg to work on a compromise.
Overriding a veto would require the support of two-thirds of the legislature - a heavy lift, even with solid Republican majorities in both chambers.
Democratic leaders in the Capitol said they hoped a veto would spur immediate talks.
"If it goes down that path, [the governor] is expecting us to roll up our sleeves right away to get back to work," said Sen. Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia), the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee. "That's what we would prefer. For the Republicans to try to pursue an override would be foolish on their part."
Republicans are pushing a budget that would not raise taxes and that would increase funding for public education, although not at the levels Wolf is seeking.
The governor has proposed a tax on natural-gas drilling to fund public education and a shift away from property taxes that fund schools.