According to a letter from the governor to treasury secretary Henry Paulson, seen by the newspaper, the US' most populous state might need a loan of $7 billion.
A lack of access to short-term financing due to the recent worsening of the credit crunch is responsible for the shortage - which is being felt by many state governments.
Both New Mexico and Massachusetts have had to pull out of planned bond sales worth hundreds of millions of dollars due to the adverse market conditions.
"Absent a clear resolution to this financial crisis," Mr Schwarzenegger commented, "California and other states may be unable to obtain the necessary level of financing to maintain government operations and may be forced to turn to the federal treasury for short-term financing.
"California is so large that our short cash-flow needs exceed the entire budget of some states."