There's an old saying about brinksmanship in Albany: A deal has to come together and fall apart three times before it can be agreed to.
But even by Albany standards, the uncertainty surrounding the latest coronavirus stimulus talks in Washington have been a fiasco for state and local governments awaiting some form of aid.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday essentially walked away from the negotiations, saying a deal wouldn't come until after Election Day. Trump, as well as the first lady and many members of his staff, are recovering from the virus itself.
For New York, this means more stopgap measures amid soaring budget gaps at the state and local level. The state government is seeking billions of dollars in aid to plug a gap without resorting to a mix of spending reductions, tax hikes, and borrowing.
The uncertainty means this: Budget cuts will continue to loom for schools, local governments that fund police and fire services, and programs funded by the state budget. Wth sales tax revenue virtually evaporated, local governments may resort to property tax increases to make ends meet.
In short, without federal aid, budgets will look ugly, and difficult decisions will have to be made at all levels of government.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week had remained hopeful for a deal in Washington, even as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin remained far apart on a deal, but had continued to talk. Republicans in Congress, meanwhile, remained leary of a "blue state bailout" in the next stimulus package.
But the lack of a deal is upsetting to markets, which nosedived on the news Tuesday afternoon, as well as to varying odd bedfellows.
The business-supporting Chamber of Commerce blasted the lack of a deal.
“Washington’s failure to enact additional COVID relief will be felt on Main Streets and at kitchen tables across the United States," the group said. "It is especially disappointing given that less than a month ago a bipartisan group of members of Congress outlined a reasonable compromise that would have provided the economy with the support it needs while helping our nation recover from this pandemic. Republican and Democratic leaders should follow their example.”
The labor union 32BJ SEIU did so as well, accusing the president of holding stimulus checks "hostage."
“The pandemic that President Trump has denied, lied about, and made worse by his indifference has taken the lives of 138 32BJ SEIU members. We are appalled that the President consistently puts politics over the lives of working people," said the union's president, Kyle Bragg. "The President today made clear that we must vote him out for essential workers to get the hazard pay, PPE, and job protection that they desperately need and deserve. We are ready to do just that on November 3.”
Overnight, Trump on Twitter said he would support more targeted forms of aid, including a bailout package for airlines, and said he would sign a bill sending checks to taxpayers as a standalone measure. The president said he would sign both immediately if they cross his desk.