Ill. GOP using newfound leverage in budget talks -

Ill. GOP using newfound leverage in budget talks

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- Republican lawmakers are using their leverage over the Illinois budget to push for changes to government health care and pensions.

Republicans are a minority in the Illinois Legislature, and they were largely shut out of budget talks during the spring. But once June arrived without a budget, new rules kicked in and it now takes GOP votes to pass anything.

The situation gives Republicans a chance to push for changes they've wanted for years. But it also puts them in the middle of a budget mess that may require tax increases and unpopular service cuts.

That means there's a risk of voter retaliation in next year's elections.

Republicans leaders insist they won't support a budget until they get some longterm changes in expensive health programs and government retirement funds.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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