Aug. 24 (Bloomberg) — California will delay paying $2.9 billion of subsidies to schools and counties in September, a month earlier than projected, to save cash amid an impasse that has left the state without a budget for 54 days.
The state’s top financial officials — the controller, treasurer and finance director — told lawmakers today that the 90-day deferrals need to start next month instead of October to make sure there’s enough money to pay bondholders. The amount is in addition to $3.2 billion the state pushed back in July.
California began its fiscal year on July 1 without a spending plan after Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democrats who lead the Legislature remained deadlocked over how to fill a $19 billion deficit. Controller John Chiang has warned he may need to issue IOUs within two weeks to pay for everything from supplies to contracted services and health-care costs if the impasse continues into next month.
“This is the salt in the wound,” said Rick Pratt, assistant executive director of the West Sacramento-based California School Boards Association, which represents districts statewide. “It’s the state taking its cash flow problem and making it a school district problem,” he said. He said deferrals from previous years have raised costs while the state has cut aid.
The deferrals will help the state meet four major payments in October that total about $1.74 billion, according to H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for Schwarzenegger’s budget office. He said that includes about $803 million in interest on general- obligation bonds.