Amanda Vinicky

Statehouse Bureau Chief/ Leadership Blog

217-206-6019

Read Amanda's "Leadership" blog.

Amanda Vinicky has covered Illinois politics and government for WUIS and the Illinois Public Radio network since 2006.  Highlights include reporting on the historic impeachment and removal from office of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, winning a national award for her coverage of Illinois' electric rate fight as a result of deregulation, and following Illinois' delegations to the Democratic and Republican national political conventions in '08 and '12.  

Though she's full-time with WUIS now, she previously interned with the station in graduate school; she graduated from the University of Illinois Springfield's Public Affairs Reporting program in '05.  She also holds degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. 

Amanda is insatiably curious, so please reach out to her and get in touch if you notice something interesting going on at the Capitol! She can be reached at (217) 206-6019 or (773) 217-0316. If she's not in the statehouse bureau, you can usually find Amanda tweeting, dining at a local restaurant, taking a jog around Springfield or Chicago or practicing yoga. 

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U.S. Senate
2:27 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

Duckworth Announces A Run For U.S. Senate

Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth used a YouTube video to announce her candidacy.
Credit Tammy Duckworth

U.S Sen. Mark Kirk will face a challenge from Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who announced Monday she'll run for the seat. It's unknown who else will vie for the spot, but it's already expected to be a tight race.

Duckworth, who was elected to the U.S. House in 2012, took to YouTube to declare her candidacy.

"I'm running for the U.S. Senate in 2016 because it's time for Washington to be held accountable, and to put Illinois' families and communities first," she said in the video.

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Leadership Blog
5:37 am
Mon March 30, 2015

Aaron Schock: In The Early Days

Though Congressman Aaron Schock and Gov. Bruce Rauner had a seemingly terse relationship early on, Schock ended up campaigning for Rauner -- and stopped by the first gubernatorial debate between Rauner and then Gov. Pat Quinn in October in Peoria to cheer on his party's nominee. Here, he takes a selfie with students in the audience. The story that's the subject of this blog post is from 2005 - before selfies were a thing.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

He was 23. 

I was 23. 

He was in the early stages of a quick run up the political ladder, and after a hard-fought election becoming a full-fledged member of the Illinois House.

I was an intern for WUIS and Illinois Public Radio, days (literally) into my first attempt at covering state government and politics. 

Doing a profile of the youngest-ever legislator elected to the General Assembly on his inauguration day, on Jan. 12, 2005 seemed a fitting assignment.  

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Legislation
4:54 am
Mon March 30, 2015

Measles Vaccine Legislation Seeks Delicate Balance

Credit The Blen / Creative Commons, flickr

 Legislators are trying to protect kids from measles, without offending anti-vaccine parents.

The outbreak of measles at a Palatine learning center in February has lawmakers wanting to protect children, but it's a politically sensitive topic.

When Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno presented her proposal to a legislative committee, she was upfront about her desire to not step on the toes of with parents who choose to not vaccinate their kids, while at the same time wanting to protect children.

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Band-Aid Budget
5:26 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

Listen to State Week - March 27, 2015

Gov. Bruce Rauner, standing at right, address members of his Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform, which met for the first time this week.
Credit Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

The Illinois General Assembly this week approved a fix for Illinois short-term budget problems, but deeper issues remain. Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock took his final vote in Congress and gave a farewell address. Daily Herald Political Editor Mike Riopell joins the panel to discuss that and other topics on this week's edition of State Week.

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Rauner Signs First Bills
8:19 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Budget Fix Signed Into Law; Daycare Program Saved

For weeks, advocates like these childcare providers have called on legislators to remedy a budget shortfall.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Republican Bruce Rauner has signed a temporary budget fix -- his first law since becoming governor earlier this year. 

Illinois' budget has a $1.6 billion dollar gap --- the result of a spending plan Democrats passed in the spring; some had hoped then for a post-election tax increase that never came to fruition.

Democratic Senator Heather Steans of Chicago says this will fill that gap.

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FEMA Formula Update Request
8:10 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Another Chance For Tornado-Ravaged Towns

A subdivision of Washington, Illinois after it was hit by a tornado; despite the extent of the damage, FEMA denied a public assistance grant.
Credit Lee Strubinger/WUIS

Illinois' Congressional delegation is trying to get the Federal Emergency Management Agency to revise how it distributes aid after natural disasters. As WUIS has previously reported, the lawmakers tried before to no avail.

When a tornado touched down in southern Illinois several years ago, devastating the small town of Harrisburg, FEMA turned down Illinois' request for disaster assistance.

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Budget FY15
7:12 pm
Wed March 25, 2015

Senate Vote On Budget Fix Expected

Senate President John Cullerton says it took a compromise to reach a deal on the Fiscal Year 15 budget; a Senate vote is expected Thursday.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

A temporary budget fix is in the hands of Illinois Senators, who are expected to vote on the plan tomorrow. County courts, daycare providers who care for low-income kids, and the department of corrections' payroll for guards -- are nearing the end of their budget ropes.

After weeks of deliberations, the House on Tuesday hurriedly passed a stopgap for the $1.6 billion hole in the current year's budget, which ends June 30.

The Senate appears poised to do the same; though leaders, like Senate Pres. John Cullerton, say they're still working to get the votes.

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Statehouse
9:45 am
Tue March 24, 2015

Pension Case Could Change Illinois' Credit Rating

The fate of Illinois' pension system rests in the upcoming Supreme Court decision.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

There's a reason analysts say Illinois has the nation's lowest credit rating. It has the nation's largest unfunded pension liability. A 2013 law that’s facing a challenge before the Illinois Supreme Court is intended to help.

Illinois is facing a budget hole in the billions, thanks to a rollback of the income tax. If the high court tosses out the pension law, there'll be more fiscal pressure.

Analysts like Moody's Ted Hampton say the rating won't likely drop further, even if the justices toss the law because the rating already presumes the law cannot be implemented.

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Where Does Power Rest?
5:45 pm
Mon March 23, 2015

Chicago Vs. Illinois

Chicago City Hall
Credit flickr/Daniel X. O'Neill

In politics, local government, like city wards, can be seen as the “minor leagues.” This is where candidates are scouted and get recruited to run for higher office.

But time and again, state legislators from Chicago do the opposite. They leave behind jobs in the Statehouse to serve on the City Council.

So that begs the question: What’s more important? Making sure potholes are filled, garbage is picked up on time and what the neighborhood watch group is up to?

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Instagram Edition
5:59 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Listen to State Week - March 20, 2015

Soon-to-be-former Congressman Aaron Schock, surfing off the coast of Hawaii.
Credit Aaron Schock / Instagram

Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock resigned this week amid questions about his spending of taxpayer money. When the news broke, political reporter Chris Kaergard of the Peoria Journal Star was in the Republican's Downton Abbey-inspired office, waiting for a previously scheduled interview.

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Statehouse
9:05 am
Mon March 16, 2015

Rauner Has His Own Plan For Illinois Pensions

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner suggests changing retirement benefits for state employees and retirees.
Credit brucerauner.com

Union members and state employees can expect another pension battle ahead, regardless of what the state Supreme Court says about Illinois' landmark 2013 law. 

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Pensions
11:34 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

Pension Case Reaches Climax At Supreme Court

Credit Amanda Vinicky

The many years legislators spent crafting a measure to rein in the state's pension costs came to a head yesterday in 52-and-a-half minute hearing before the Illinois Supreme Court. It's now up to the seven justices whether a law that reduces employees' and retirees' benefits is constitutional.

Even before then-Gov. Pat Quinn signed the pension overhaul into law just over a year ago, everyone knew it would come to this.

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Madigan Files To Drop Fair Share Suit
8:01 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

Legal Battle Between Governor, Attorney General Begins

Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed a legal motion to intervene in Gov. Bruce Rauner's federal lawsuit, seeking to rid of fair share dues.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

A legal battle over union fees is brewing, between Illinois Republican governor and Democratic Attorney General.

Illinois' Attorney General says Gov. Bruce Rauner had no authority to bring a fight over union dues to federal court. She's trying to dismiss the case.

Republican Gov. Rauner is trying to get rid of so-called "fair share" dues on two fronts: he's ordered state agencies to stop collecting them, and he's suing in federal court to toss out the underlying state law that requires them.

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Battle Over Fair-Share Dues
5:06 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Unions Take Rauner To Court

Illnois unions fought unsuccessfully against a law that reduces workers' pensions -- that law will have its day in court next week. Now, they're trying to fend off an attempt by Gov. Bruce Rauner to eliminate fair-share fee collection, by taking him to court.
Credit wuis

Unions are taking Gov. Bruce Rauner to court over his attempt to get rid of so-called "fair-share" dues.

Illinois law requires workers who are not members of unions to nonetheless pay a fee, for the benefits unions secure on their behalf.

Rauner had issued an executive order eliminating that requirement.

But labor leaders says that's a violation of the separation of powers; in other words, a governor can't unilaterally toss out a state law.

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Budget FY15
9:32 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

"Don't Get Used To This" Breezy Budget Hearing

A House appropriations committee was relatively easy on the governor's top staff; but expect bruising budget battles ahead.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Last month, Gov. Bruce Rauner unveiled his budget --- chock full of cuts to state programs. But now it's the legislature's turn to take a swipe at a state spending plan. Amanda Vinicky reports on a hearing, at which the governor's office had to testify before lawmakers about its own budget.

Given the widespread frustration by Democrats at the huge cuts Rauner, a Republican, has proposed, you may expect a hearing like this to get a bit tense. But House members were relatively easy on the governor's top aides, who say the governor's office is cutting its budget by ten percent.

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Ecological Reprecussions
2:06 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Bat-Killing White-Nose Syndrome Spreads In Illinois

A bat in New York with White-nose syndrome; 5.6 million bats in the eastern half of North American have died as a result of the disease.
Credit Little_brown_bat;_close-up_of_nose_with_fungus,_New_York,_Oct._2008._(5765048289).jpg

A disease responsible for the deaths of millions of bats has spread in Illinois.

The white-nose syndrome gets its name from a fungus that grows on affected bats' noses. Scientists say infected bats often show odd behavior - like taking daytime flights - when they're supposed to be hibernating. It's suspected that depletes their fat reserves, and causes the bats to become emaciated, and eventually die. 

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Limit On Pain Killer Prescriptions
7:33 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Comprehensive, Controversial Heroin Legislation Introduced

Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, former Elmhurt Republican Rep. Dennis Reboletti, and Rep. John Anthony, R-Plainfield stand behind Democratic Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, as the group introduces what they say is comprehensive, and sure to be controversial, legislation meant to curb heroin abuse.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Sweeping legislation intended to combat a heroin epidemic has been introduced by a bipartisan group of legislators.

Before he became a state legislator, Republican Rep. John Anthony was a cop in Champaign, and a sheriff's deputy in Kendall County.

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Other Former Governors Get Six-Figure Pensions Too
4:45 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Ex-Gov. Quinn Begins Collecting Six-Figure Pension

The base of former Gov. Pat Quinn's salary is protected under the pension overhaul he signed into law, but like other state employees, future hikes will be reduced should the court uphold its constitutionality. Quinn began collecting his annual, $137,000 pension a day after he left office in January.
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Some of the main architects of the Illinois law that seeks to save the state money by reducing workers' pensions have begun collecting pensions of their own.

On March 11, the Illinois Supreme Court will hear arguments for and against the pension overhaul signed into law late in 2013 by then-Gov. Pat Quinn. If it succeeds, Quinn, like other retired state employees, will see his the size of his future retirement benefits shrink, as the law does away with compounded cost-of-living increases.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
7:30 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

2015 Budget - CapitolView

Host Amanda Vinicky and guests Andy Maloney (Chicago Daily Law Bulletin) and Patrick Yeagle (IL Times) discuss issues with the 2015 Budget, runoff in Chicago Mayoral race, and Exelon's nuclear prop-up plan.

CapitolView is a production of WSEC-TV/PBS Springfield, Network Knowledge.

Energy Battle Begins
2:28 pm
Thu February 26, 2015

Profitable Exelon Seeks Legislation To Save Unprofitable Nuclear Plants

Exelon Senior Vice President Joe Dominguez says "nuclear power has thus far been excluded from the programs that actually provide compensation for zero carbon electricity." His corporation proposes Illinois institute a low carbon portfolio standard.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

After issuing warnings it may have to close down half its nuclear fleet, Exelon today introduced a proposal it says would keep them open. It signals the start of what's expected to be a long debate over Illinois' energy policy. 

Exelon is one of Illinois' biggest, and most powerful corporations.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
7:35 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

Rauner Tells Cabinet: I'll Take Your Arrows

Gov. Bruce Rauner gathered his cabinet together for a meeting at the capitol.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Just over 50 top state officials came together this afternoon for their first cabinet meeting with Illinois' new governor, Bruce Rauner. Journalists were invited to hear the Republican's opening remarks.

Rauner's Cabinet gathered in one of the capitol's largest, and nicest, committee rooms; members milled about, making small talk and introductions.

Some were recently appointed by the governor and are new to Illinois government; others are holdovers from former Gov. Pat Quinn's administration.

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Budget FY16
6:07 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Credit Rating Agency Says Rauner's Budget Will Be Difficult To Enact

Credit flickr/dborman

A major credit rating agency has come out with a blunt assessment of Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed budget for Illinois.

The budget Rauner presented last week calls for massive cuts in state spending -- without any increase in taxes.

Moody's Investor Service dismisses the chance that parts, let alone all, of the plan will ever become a reality.

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Smart Grid Rate Extension Bill
4:03 am
Tue February 24, 2015

First Bill To Land On Rauner's Desk Presents Potential Political, Legal Issues

Illinois' new governor has his first opportunity to determine the fate of legislation. Gov. Bruce Rauner's decision could affect how much you're paying for electricity.

The measure at hand, House Bill 3975, took a strange and winding path to get to Governor Bruce Rauner's desk, beginning with one governor and one General Assembly, and carrying over into another administration and new legislative session. The plan allows Ameren and Commonwealth Edison to continue asking customers to pay for upgrades to the electric grid; in many cases that means a higher electric bill.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
5:12 am
Mon February 23, 2015

Pensions: Plenty To Talk About While Waiting For The Court

Pensions' big day before the Illinois Supreme Court has been set for next month, on March 11. 

I was honored to be on a panel recently (before Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget address, so no talk about his latest proposal), along with the Civic Federation's Laurence Msall, Sen. Daniel Biss D-Evanston and Sen. Matt Murphy R-Palatine, to discuss one of the state's most controversial, pressing and expensive issues.  

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FY16 Budget
4:45 am
Mon February 23, 2015

Days After Rauner Proposes Mental Health Cuts, Madigan's Violence Prevention Task Force Begins

House Speaker Michael Madigan chose Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, (pictured) to chair the new violence prevention task force.
Credit ILGA.gov

During his inauguration speech, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan announced a new mission -- figuring out what Illinois can do to prevent violence, like mass shootings at schools. A bipartisan task force formed to study the issue will meet for the first time today in Chicago.

Look back at the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Columbine, Northern Illinois University, and Rep. Greg Harris says you'll see commonalities. Like missed opportunities to help the killers with mental health issues that had been detected, but weren't properly treated.

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Leadership Blog
1:34 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Oops! He Did It (The G Thang) Again

Gov. Rauner's tendency of droppin' g's was noticeable in his campaign commercials and at certain campaign stops, but it really caught people's ears during his State of the State address in early February.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

With all of Illinois' deep, multi-faceted and important problems, it may seem trite to focus on something like Gov. Bruce Rauner's speech patterns. And yet, reactions to the Republican’s first State of the State address earlier this month focused less on the meat of his manifesto, and more on what many saw as a distraction: Rauner’s delivery. It was talked about enough that I thought it worth looking into, and getting an dialect expert to weigh in on whether it's genuine (as Rauner says is the case), or contrived.

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Budget FY16
12:49 am
Thu February 19, 2015

Rauner's Budget: Honest, Or Slash And Burn?

Gov. Bruce Rauner spent his birthday Wednesday presenting his first budget to the General Assembly; it includes deep cuts which he says are needed after years of reckless spending.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Thirty-eight days into his term as Illinois' governor, Bruce Rauner yesterday delivered his much-anticipated budget address. Amanda Vinicky recaps the financial reckoning.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
12:00 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Rauner's First Budget Address - Illinois Lawmakers

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner budget address begins to end months of speculation about his specific plans to address the state budget deficit.

Illinois Lawmakers is produced in partnership by WSIU-TV Carbondale, WTVP-TV Peoria, and Illinois Public Media, Urbana.

On The Rail
5:11 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

Rauner Meets With Legislative Leaders About Budget

Gov. Bruce Rauner will give his budget address on Wednesday, Feb. 18.

Just how Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner plans to deal with Illinois' budget and its deficit largely remains a mystery. Rauner is set to finally unveil his ideas Wednesday, when he gives his budget address. However, the legislature's leaders got a preview the day before.

House Speaker Michael Madigan walked out the large, glass doors of the governor's antechamber, with this to say about his meeting with Rauner:

"The governor simply said that he's got some tough medicine to deliver."

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
6:07 am
Mon February 16, 2015

Lookin' Into Gov. Rauner's Missing G's

Gov. Bruce Rauner's hobbies include huntin' and fishin', but his critics say the former private equity investor's folksy image - and sound - is forced.
Credit Alex Keefe / WBEZ

Gov. Bruce Rauner's prescription for Illinois’ finances will finally be made known on Wednesday, when he gives his budget address. Legislators, state employees and social service agencies will no doubt pay close attention to what Rauner has to say. But after another big speech earlier this month made many go "gee," observers will also be listening for how he says it.

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