A budget impasse looms
Scotland's public spending could be heading for another precipice. Holyrood's budget is being cut, and there's a real possibility that there may be a failure to pass it.
In some countries, such as the United States, that means public sector workers don't get paid, and services close down.
In Scotland, the quirk is that it could make very little difference.
Here's how it works. If there is no agreement on the budget for the financial year starting in April, then the law says that the previous year's budget will apply, or whatever part of it was spent, in one-twelfth shares released each month.
That law was drawn with an assumption that budgets would continue to rise. But what if they're being cut, if only in real terms?
Last year's money still gets passed from the Treasury to the Scottish government, on a monthly basis. And as it's not much more in cash terms, it will deliver very similar results to the outcome if the budget were not passed.
How does this affect the politics at Holyrood? It means there's little or no penalty for parties if they can't agree a budget, and it would be up to the incoming government (or a continuing SNP one) to try and pass a budget after the 5 May election.
Across the parties, that's a scenario that's being treated quite seriously.
The other likely way of getting the budget through the Scottish Parliament, when the SNP is 19 votes short of a majority, is by negotiating a deal where opposition parties can be persuaded to abstain.
Tories have backed SNP budgets in the past three years, in exchange for concessions, but Conservatives may be reluctant to get too close to John Swinney's cuts programme this time round.
Assuming Labour will want to vote against, what the finance secretary then needs to do is to neutralise the Lib Dems.
And while talking politics, in which I've been immersing myself at the Scottish Labour conference in a drookit Oban, watch carefully what Labour's going to say about protecting the health budget.
It's carefully not saying it's ring-fenced. But what it's likely to do is to say it will put the care budget in with the National Health Service. The effect of that is intended to build pressure on health service managers - and the councillors who would play a bigger role in running the service - to bear down on costs and inefficiencies in the NHS.