Oregon police believe some DNA (search) evidence harvested from convicted felons will help close dozens of unsolved rape and murder cases — but not until the state crime lab gets the money to pay for processing.

But Oregon (search) and 34 other states in which all felons are DNA-tested have burned through $86 million in federal grant money to process thousands of samples from criminals and parolees.

In Oregon alone, 23,000 unprocessed DNA samples remain, translating into dozens of crimes that could be potentially solved — and others that might be prevented.

The federal government has put Oregon and other states on notice that well for DNA-testing will dry as soon as the original backlog is cleared. But so far, Oregon lawmakers have put little state money behind the processing procedures — only enough to take care of about six months' worth of new samples.

The crime lab is calling on the Oregon Legislature to provide the funding it needs to proceed.

But the longer the delay, the bigger the backlog. And every month, about 1,000 new samples come in that will wind up collecting dust with the rest — until somebody cuts a check.

Click on the video box near the top of this story to watch a report by FOX News' Dan Springer.