HARRISBURG - Legislative leaders huddled behind closed doors Sunday to determine how to resolve the state's budget crisis after a so-called framework agreement seemed to implode a day earlier.
But after hours of negotiating, it seemed another contentious battle could emerge before Christmas: While House leaders said they might soon propose a temporary spending plan to free up money for schools and nonprofits, Senate Republicans and Gov. Wolf said they wanted to work instead toward enacting a full-year budget.
"We'll see what they do and react to that," said Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre), as he left a meeting with House Republican leaders.
The competing visions for how to move forward could further complicate a budget impasse on the verge of becoming the longest in state history.
While an end to the 173-day stalemate appeared imminent as recently as Friday, negotiations fell apart over the weekend, creating doubt about how or when lawmakers might be able to reach a final agreement.
The downward spiral began Saturday, when the House rejected by a 149-52 vote a plan to place new state workers and public school employees into a hybrid pension system - a key component of the $30.8 billion framework touted by Wolf and Senate Republicans.
That vote imperiled the rest of the already-tenuous agreement, which would have boosted school spending by $350 million and enacted reforms to the state's liquor and pension systems.
Rep. Bill Adolph (R., Delaware) said Sunday that House Republicans were now leaning toward leaving behind various elements of the framework, and that a temporary budget could be the best way to quickly disperse funds to schools and county governments that have struggled without state aid.
Adolph said the House Appropriations Committee, which he chairs, could consider such a proposal as soon as Monday. If approved by the committee, a full chamber could vote on the plan by Tuesday.
"If I was a betting man, right now I would lean toward an 11-month stopgap," Adolph said.
But the Senate would also have to agree to a temporary plan and Corman said Senate leaders preferred searching for a full, 12-month budget.
Wolf has also long opposed stopgap plans, having vetoed one passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in September.
Wolf's spokesman, Jeff Sheridan, said Sunday that the governor is "not going to accept a stopgap."
"We need a full-year budget," he said. "We're entering the week of Christmas - we need to get this done now."
Neither the House nor the Senate was scheduled to hold full voting sessions on Monday, and Wolf had no public appearances scheduled.
The Capitol on Sunday was dark and largely empty, as rank-and-file members were dismissed after the commotion from the day before.
Drew Crompton, the Senate's top Republican lawyer, said Sunday that he still hoped some kind of budget could be finished before the end of the year.
But he acknowledged it was unlikely to reflect many portions of the framework - something he said was disappointing after seeming so close to the end.
"I don't think there's any possible way of getting to the framework between now and Christmas or New Year's," he said with resignation. "We are where we are."