ILLINOIS - There's growing debate over the state's progress paying off its bills.
Monday, the state said it's down to about $4 billion. Critics say, that's not quite right. No matter who you ask, they do agree the state is paying down its debt. Some say it's an improvement for Illinois.
"The state of Illinois is paying down its bills, but also meeting our obligations for pensions for the first time in a long time."
The state is at $3.9 billion in debt; down from $9.9 billion when Quinn took office in 2009.
"It means we're going in the right direction. We still have an awful lot of work to do. There will always be some unpaid bills out there."
Union Service Member Al Pieper agrees there's more work to do.
"They've done a fair job, a reasonable job. I think they could have done much better."
In Pieper's opinion, lawmakers could have done more, long ago, to prevent some of the bills from piling up in the first place.
"And now, we find ourselves in a position where the backlog is still at three or four billion dollars. That's a lot of money."
Quinn says tough decisions help reduce the debt. But Pieper isn't giving him too much credit.
"They had opportunities years ago to set up a rainy day fund. That didn't happen."
Neither is the comptroller. Judy Baar Topinka reports the actual debt amount is closer to $4.4 billion.
Gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner says the budget his opponent just signed into law is going to make the state's financial problems worse.