SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ Illinois Democrats haven't given up on borrowing billions of dollars to reduce the state's staggering backlog of unpaid bills. The state owes nearly $9 billion to charities, businesses and local governments which provide services and materials. Democrats are preparing legislation for this spring. They say a short-term loan of $4 billion or more could make a big dent in a pile of bills up to four months old. Republicans have repeatedly halted the plan. The latest version lost momentum after criticism from GOP Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka.
Critics fear Democrats will use the money to start new programs.
Both sides agree there won't be any action until lawmakers come up with a plan for reducing a $96 billion deficit in public-employee pension funds.