But way off Broadway, a repeat is possible for municipalities and school districts across much of the state. Former Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch, a historical player in the rescue of New York City, said it took a crisis of banks abruptly cutting off lending and extraordinary political will to push through the state aid the city needed. The delay, however, caused more pain and more damage.
Once again, he says, few are listening in Albany.
"We need that kind of leadership today," Ravitch, 79, said.
The state budget adopted less than three weeks ago offered few of the structural changes needed by municipalities and schools, Ravitch said in a recent interview. One offering is a pension plan in which local governments and school districts could lower their pension costs today by banking on what is projected by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be lower payments years from now.
Critics led by Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, Cuomo's co-leader of the state Democratic Party, has called that risky borrowing to kick an already well-dented can down the road.
What she wants is a meeting, the kind of summit Cuomo has already called to sell more Greek yogurt, as well as wine and beer.
She hasn't yet heard from Cuomo.
"We need everyone to get around the table to discuss this and make decisions now because the longer we wait, the worse our choices are going to be," Miner said.
"Every day that goes by, there is another closed fire house, a city can't buy snow plows to plow the streets," she said. "I think it's pretty clear that we have a number of municipalities in financial distress and the number is growing by the day, pushing municipalities to fiscal ruin."
Dozens of municipalities from Long Island to Niagara Falls are on the road to insolvency after years of employee health care and pension costs outstripped declining tax revenues from dwindling populations, all worsened by recession.
Those struggling cities include Rochester, which is facing a $30 million deficit and may have to reduce road paving; Syracuse, which proposes a 3.1 percent cut in spending for departments, mostly from police and fire, but no tax increase; and Yonkers, which is $89 million in the hole and proposes to cut spending, raise taxes slightly and slash 112 workers, mostly police, fire and public works employees.
Many city and county governments and school districts have cut spending and issued layoffs like never before, and many still come up short. Skyrocketing pension obligations are among the biggest drains, with the New York State Association of Counties saying the pension costs for counties alone have risen to $1.1 billion, from $47 million in 2000.
The New York Conference of Mayors said that by the end of the 2014 fiscal year, pension costs for cities outside New York City will have increased by $568 million since 2010.Cuomo has defended his pension proposal as an effective option for municipalities and school districts to reduce current pension costs by smoothing the bill now with projected savings years and decades from now.
But Miner pointed to the bankruptcy of Stockton, Calif., as a glaring example of why that's a bad idea.
Stockton became the nation's most populous city to declare bankruptcy earlier this year, blaming its problems in part on pension bond debt. Moody's rating service says pension borrowing can be seen as "part of a continuous pattern of reliance on one-time resources."
Squeezing at the other end is Albany's recent law to keep local spending increases under 2 percent.
This year's the budget increased aid to the state's 700 school districts by $1 billion, or about 4 percent, while aid to municipalities remained flat at $715 million, which is $50 million less than in 2008-09.
Some local government officials and school board members fear Cuomo wants their local entities to fall over a New York fiscal cliff so he could appoint control boards and consolidate school districts.
Cuomo denies that. Instead, he says they all must do what he did when he entered office facing a $10 billion deficit on a $135 billion budget. Cuomo said he has offered more reductions in local mandates than any other governor, but that was a low bar.
The state budget also lacks repeals of laws, enacted by state officials over decades, that sweetened public employee union salaries, benefits and pensions. Those laws play well in Albany, where public worker unions have long wielded great influence through lobbying and campaign contributions. But it leaves much of the bill with local government and school taxpayers paying some of the nation's highest rates.
Lack of political will in Albany today isn't the only obstacle against a repeat of the 1975 save of New York City that made historical figures of Ravitch, Democratic Gov. Hugh Carey and upstate Republican Senate Majority Leader Warren Anderson. They ignored partisan politics and negotiated savings in union contracts and other spending long considered sacred. And they did it without a bailout or help from Congress or President Gerald Ford, prompting the famous Daily News headline: "Ford to City: Drop Dead."
Today, banks aren't even threatening to stop government borrowing, but instead use their lobbyists to pitch more deals, dangling millions of dollars in campaign contributions.
"It's very hard for that people who run for office to inflict pain, and if there is a way of kicking the can down the road to avoid inflicting pain, they are going to do it until they can't do it anymore," said Ravitch, who was appointed lieutenant governor under Gov. David Paterson. "That's true with liberals, conservatives, Democrat and Republicans."
It's not that Albany has been unable to address big problems. It just depends on the problem.
"You can make major reforms when you have the people's attention," Cuomo said last week in supporting a more popular political issue, anti-corruption measures after some state lawmakers were accused in federal bribery cases. "Never waste a crisis, as they say."
The crisis for many New Yorkers is in the form of high taxes, crumbling cities and high unemployment. That's the kind of data employers research before coming to or expanding in New York, even if they are momentarily enticed by Cuomo's glitzy "New York Open for Business" TV ad campaign.
"In 1975," Ravitch remembered, "Nobody did a frigging thing about it until the banks got worried. And then, boom! ... the crisis was there and it had to be addressed."