Is all the speculation about the possible furlough of thousands of Pennsylvania state workers just talk, or is it a real possibility?
Either way, if it does happen it will demonstrate that elected officials aren't above using state employees as political pawns.
The Associated Press reported that in the past two weeks about 20,000 state employees received notification that if the legislature and the governor don't agree on a budget, workers could be furloughed.
Not only that, but the administration of Gov. Ed Rendell has met with unions to assure them that in the event of a furlough, the state would still pay its share of health-care costs. If this is a political ploy, the governor seems ready to push matters to the brink.
As AP's legislative correspondent Mark Scolforo noted this week, Rendell or legislative leaders don't need another problem to get the voters stirred up.