SAN FRANCISCO — California Gov. Jerry Brown said Friday he signed a bill into law that will allow the state to shift $865 million around internally to buffer cash-flow needs.
The internal borrowing is part of a plan — which also includes payment deferrals and a sale in the next few weeks of up to $1 billion of supplemental revenue anticipation notes — to help the state shore up a $3.3 billion cash shortfall.
Controller John Chiang said in a letter to lawmakers last week that the government would run out of cash for seven weeks starting Feb. 29 unless the Legislature adopted the short-term measures to buffer its cash flow.
The shortfall is mainly a result of a combined $5.2 billion gap in both revenue and spending estimates.
The gap is partly due to cuts that have been blocked by the courts, such as a 10% cut in Medi-Cal, and inaccurate savings predictions in the current budget.
Moody’s Investors Service said in a report Monday that dwindling cash is a credit negative for California because it reflects weak revenues, excessive spending, and the need for special cash management.
“The cash shortfall is limited to less than two months, however, and will not affect the state’s ability to repay its short-term cash flow notes, which are due in June, or any other debt,” Moody’s said.
Cash management can be tricky for California because a large share of its revenue arrives during income tax season in April, which is toward the end of its fiscal year.
Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings both assign California’s general obligation bonds an A-minus. Moody’s rates them A1, two notches higher.
Last year, the state sold $5.4 billion of Rans to pay off a bridge loan of the same amount it received from eight banks. The treasurer took the loan in an effort to avoid potential chaos resulting from the debt ceiling stalemate in Washington.
In 2010, California took a $6.7 billion bridge loan to give it time to prepare a public Ran sale after the state budget was adopted 100 days into the fiscal year. The state repaid the loan from six financial institutions after it sold $10 billion of notes that fall.
Chiang issued $2 billion of IOUs in 2009 to make up for a cash shortfall.