By Michael Peppers
Illinois gets farther behind on its unpaid bills and a new prediction shows things may not get better.
A government watchdog agency warns the state's backlog could quadruple.
Illinois has about $9.2 billion in bills it hasn't paid, but a Chicago-based research organization called The Civic Federation says that amount is likely to jump to $34.6 million in just 5 years.
Lawmakers take the study seriously.
"If we do nothing, this scenario that the Civic Federation put out there will come true," said 68th District State Representative Dave Winters.
67th District State Representative Chuck Jefferson agrees.
"We understand as legislators that we have to do something with these growing costs...growing expenditures because if we don't they are going to escalate through the roof," he said.
The study points at rising healthcare and pension costs as the main reason for the growing state debt. Democratic Representative Chuck Jefferson agrees both are issues, but says the state also needs to bring in more money and Springfield needs to make tough budget choices.
"We have to continue to search for additional revenue," said Jefferson. "We're cutting back on things that were doing in the General Assembly as it relates to laying people off in these crucial jobs and things like that. Asking people to cut back. The legislators themselves have been taking furlough days for the last 3 years. I've given 12 furlough days a year out of my pay."
Republican Representative Dave Winters says no area of state spending should be off limits. Whether it's the air fleet that we have, the largest in the country, whether it's pensions for our current state employees and downstate teachers. All of those are a huge burden that we have to address."
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