Malloy says state is ready for federal shutdown

With a potential federal government shutdown hours away, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy addressed reporters and television cameras Friday afternoon, saying he hoped to allay residents’ fears about what it could mean for them.

“I have decided to treat this as any other crisis or potential crisis that might face the people of Connecticut, and that is to make sure that our state government is available to the citizens of the state of Connecticut,” said Malloy, whose first weeks in office included several press conferences to offer updates on snow and ice storms. “We are preparing for this storm just like we would prepare for any other rain event or snow event. It is incumbent upon us to communicate.”

Malloy said the state has the cash flow to “very easily” withstand a federal shutdown for “upwards of three weeks.”

After that, he added, the state would need to find other ways to raise money to cover federal obligations. The state would likely need to resort to short-term borrowing to cover Medicaid reimbursements.

According to the last report from state Treasurer Denise L. Nappier, filed April 1, state government’s cash balance topped $2.1 billion in late February. The treasurer ordered short-term borrowing of $580 million two years ago to pay bills after the balance dropped below $700 million.

State government maintains a common cash pool, a system that effectively mingles tax revenues, receipts from fees, licenses and penalties, federal grants, and proceeds from borrowing, in one big account.

Malloy said state government would also try to help residents having trouble because of the shutdown, which he said could make it difficult for people to get documents needed for foreign travel or make commercial transactions.

“We will answer whatever questions we can, we will make ourselves available, we will give people regular updates, and we will face this problem as we will face any other problem, and that’s head on,” he said.