COLUMBUS —  Despite a relatively healthy economy, a bulging rainy day fund and bipartisan accords in both legislative chambers, chances are mushrooming that Ohio lawmakers will miss the constitutional deadline to enact a new state budget for only the second time in the past 28 years.

"I don’t think I’m going to be leaving Columbus for awhile," said House Speaker Larry Householder, who packed a bag Friday after arriving at his Perry County the previous night at 3:30 a.m. as talks with the Senate remained deadlocked.

The Republican already canceled a tentative House session for Saturday, and has prepared a measure to extend the current state operating budget two weeks beyond Sunday's expiration date if the impasse remains.

Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, said he remains "cautiously optimistic" legislators will meet Sunday's deadline, noting, "We’re still in the office plugging away."

He added, "I don’t think this should be this difficult."

Householder said the most "optimistic schedule" would bring an agreement by the House-Senate conference committee Saturday afternoon, with approval of the $69 billion, two-year budget by both chambers Sunday.

But he also said, "I am not holding my breath."

Lawmakers also apparently will blow by a Sunday deadline - set by FirstEnergy Solutions - to pass a bill bailing out Ohio's two nuclear power plants, both near Lake Erie.

While the "low-hanging fruit" among the 500 or so differences between the versions of the budget approved by wide bipartisan margins in the House and Senate have been solved, negotiators still have "a couple of pages" of unresolved issues, including fundamental disagreement on at least three key matters:

• Taxes. The House wiped out close to half of a $1.2 billion annual state income tax cut given to certain businesses — such as lobbyists, various limited liability corporations and some law firms — known as "pass-through entities" because they "pass through" business income to the owners instead of paying corporate taxes. Householder said the justification for such a large tax break — job creation — never happened; instead, the bulk of owners simply pocketed the money.

Obhof, Gov. Mike DeWine and business groups want to keep the tax cuts. State taxation figures show that 86 percent of the affected businesses would still get the full current tax cut even under the scaled-down the House plan. Owners of many of the remaining 14 percent live out of state.

• Medicaid, especially pharmacy benefit managers and the managed-care organizations that hire them. The two current PBMs got nearly $250 million in the most recent year studied, with perhaps $200 million of that deemed excess profit. Householder is pushing for a single PBM hired by the state to act as a fiduciary — meaning it would have to put the interests of Ohio taxpayers first, over the PBM’s corporate coffers.

Obhof, equally concerned about PBMs' impact on taxpayers and ailing Ohio pharmacies, espouses a different tact: Giving pharmacies $100 million a year, and upping accountability for PBMs.

But Householder said, "If the problem is (PBMs) creating a $100 million hole, the solution is not to just thrown another $100 million in it. The solution is to fix the problem."

• Education, including school funding, state report cards for individual schools, new graduation requirements, and the state's ability to take over poorly performing school districts. Householder said the two chambers may wind up with a simple moratorium on the latter two items. But the main dispute remains over whether to give more state money to less-affluent districts, as the House wants, or for vouchers to attend private schools, as desired by the Senate.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, pleased the budget funds his requested investments in poor, at-risk children and other initiatives such as his H2Ohio plan to help clean up toxic algae in Lake Erie, was insistent that lawmakers get a budget to him for his signature this weekend.

Lawmakers had to extend the budget deadline in 2009 and 1991, both years, unlike 2019, when the state was mired in a recession and the chambers divided between Democrats and Republicans.