"If we run out of money and have to shut down government, in some form, some portions, it's a terrible message about Michigan," Governor Jennifer Granholm told a manufacturers' group Tuesday.
But it is the message that will be sent by June 1st, she said.
That's more than three weeks away, so just what would be shut down? A spokeswoman for the governor says it's too early to say.
What happened in New Jersey last year could give some indication. There, as in Michigan, a dispute between the governor and lawmakers over hiking the sales tax led to a government shut down.
It ended all road construction projects. Vehicle registration offices were closed, the lottery was suspended, and more than half the state's workforce was laid off.
That would be a concern for Michigan's employee unions.
"We are upset," union steward Steve Gilroy told News 10.
Gilroy and union colleagues are knocking on doors at the Capitol Wednesday to express concern about what layoffs would mean for employees and the economy.
"State workers aren't going to be able to make their mortage," he said. "They're not going to be able to make their car payments."
Amid all the talk over what a shutdown would mean, there is one more key question: could it actually happen?
"She doesn't have full authority to shut the government down," Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop said.
Bishop points out it's the legislature that hands out money to state departments. He says talk of a shutdown isn't necessary when bipartisan budget negotiations appear to be working.
"We're going to close that gap between now and the next two weeks, and probably sooner than that," Bishop said.
Such a deal would keep Michigan's government going if lawmakers and the governor can craft a compromise.
In New Jersey, the shutdown lasted just a week after lawmakers agreed to the governor's sales tax increase.