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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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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Illinois Issues - Leadership
1:25 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Civic Federation Advocates Taxing Retirement Income, Raising Income Tax

Credit wnij

Next week, Gov. Bruce Rauner will unveil his spending proposal. The non-partisan Civic Federation has some suggestions.

The Civic Federation’s Director, Laurence Msall, says Illinois’ budget isn’t just in bad shape; its condition is terrible ... and climbing out of it won’t be easy.

“These are not politically attractive answers. There are financial, reality-based suggestions on how the state can stabilize its finances,” he says.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
10:02 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Explaining Rauner's Latest Union Moves

Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks with Statehouse reporters in this November 2014 file photo.
Credit Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is taking another shot at government employee unions. The Republican has signed an executive order prohibiting so-called "fair share" dues paid by workers who would rather not join a union. He says the alliance between unions and politicians has been a “corrupt bargain."

“There’s also a fundamental American principle of freedom of choice," Rauner says. "America is about freedom of choice and empowering individuals to control their own lives and their own future. This is allowing the employees of state government the right to decide."

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
5:08 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Rauner Ratchets Up Union Battle, Order Says Workers Don't Have To Pay Dues

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday afternoon issued an executive order that he says will allow 6,500 state employees who don't want to pay union dues to be free not to.
Credit Lisa Ryan

Gov. Bruce Rauner is ratcheting up his battle with organized labor. In a surprise move, today he issued an executive order that allows government workers to stop paying union dues.

Since taking office, Rauner talked a lot about his belief that unions’ contributions to political campaigns are a “corrupt bargain.”

The Republican governor says forcing state employees to pay union dues is a “critical cog” in that bargain, and it’s crushing taxpayers.

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Leadership Blog
5:07 am
Mon February 9, 2015

Rauner Defends Paying CFO $120,000 For Four Months' Work

Donna Arduin, Rauner's CFO, will be paid $120,000 for a contract that runs from February through April.
Credit Reboot Illinois

Funding for everything from state-subsidized daycare to court reporters' salaries is running out in Illinois. At the same time, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has signed on a top aide for a contract worth $30,000 a month.

Donna Arduin may not be a household name in Illinois yet, but as Rauner's Chief Financial Officer, she may become on.

Arduin has been contracted to "provide advice to the governor" on how to deal with Illinois' pending fiscal challenges.

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Statehouse
2:14 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Minimum Wage Debate Continues

Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) wants to increase the minimum wage to $11 by 2019.

A day after Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed a seven year time frame to bring Illinois' minimum wage to $10 an hour. The Illinois Senate approved a plan that would make that happen by 2017.  

The Senate, or its Democrats, anyway, passed a minimum wage hike late last year. It died after stalling in the House.

Senators wasted no time in taking another swing now that a new legislative session has begun. Sen. Chris Nybo, a Republican from Elmhurst, tried to persuade the measure's sponsor, Democratic Sen. Kim Lightford, to wait.

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Leadership Blog
12:12 am
Thu February 5, 2015

In State Of The State, Rauner Throws First Pitch Of His "Turnaround" Manifesto To Legislators

Gov. Bruce Rauner gave his first State of the State address Tuesday; he says it's "make or break time for the Land of Lincoln."
Credit Amanda Vinicky

For the past couple of weeks, Illinois' new governor, Bruce Rauner, traveled the state, giving speeches that mostly told audiences what's wrong with Illinois. Tuesday, he used his state of the state address to begin to describe what he wants to do about it.

Rauner didn't just deliver a big speech yesterday. He produced a full manifesto, complete with calls for an upheaval of Illinois' labor laws, changes to the constitution, a property tax freeze, and the hiring of more prison guards. The speech started off on a conciliatory note. Or maybe it was an invitation.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
12:00 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Rauner's First State of the State Address - Illinois Lawmakers

Illinois' first Republican Governor in twelve years delivered his first annual State of the State speech to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly on Wednesday, February 4. In this special edition of Illinois Lawmakers, Governor Bruce Rauner called on legislators to work with him to pass economic policies aimed at improving the state's business climate.

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Statehouse
7:31 pm
Mon February 2, 2015

Rauner Hints State Workers Paid Too Much, Shouldn't Be Able To Strike

Credit brucerauner.com

State employees can rest assured-- Gov. Bruce Rauner does not want to cut their salaries. But a memo sent to state legislators Monday warns of other changes the governor would like to see.

Shortly after becoming governor, Rauner tried to spread goodwill, reaching out to workers with visits to state offices.

"I want to make Illinois a wonderful place to work for everyone here. I want good, fair compensation."

Then came a series of speeches, previewing his State of the State address on Wednesday, in which he says Illinois' payroll is bloated.

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Statehouse
6:40 pm
Mon February 2, 2015

Medical Marijuana Program Continues To Next Step

Credit WBEZ

  Gov. Bruce Rauner has announced a list of the companies that'll be able to grow and sell medical marijuana in Illinois.

Illinois law spelled out what was supposed to be a blind process to select who'd get the potentially-lucrative pot licenses. Though it appears as if former Gov. Pat Quinn's administration had selected winners, he finished his term last month without awarding any.

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Budget FY15
12:30 am
Mon February 2, 2015

Eyes On Rauner As Popular Daycare Program's Out Of Cash

Credit childcarecenter.us

Gov. Bruce Rauner has consistently said he's waiting to give details on his plans for Illinois' finances until his budget address, on February 18th. But decisions by previous lawmakers may force him to make closely-watched decisions sooner.

Illinois has a program that helps low-income parents pay for day-care. But -- because the previous General Assembly cut funding for it by millions from the current state budget - state money for has run out.

That's alarming for advocates like Emily Miller, who is with Voices for Illinois Children.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
7:30 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Rauner's First Moves - CapitolView

Host Amanda Vinicky and guests Charlie Wheeler (UIS) and Patrick Yeagle (Illinois Times) discuss Bruce Rauner's actions so far as governor of Illinois. This week he will give the State of the State, his first speech as governor.

Leadership Blog
7:55 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Rauner High On List of "Sugar Daddies Of State Politics"

Bruce Rauner spent record amounts of money for an Illinois statewide race to win the governor's office in November.
Credit Alex Keefe / WBEZ

The millions of dollars Republican Governor Bruce Rauner poured into his campaign landed him near the top of a national list of last year's biggest campaign contributors to state races.

The Center for Public Integrity gathered data on political giving to state races. It then used that information to crown "sugar daddies of state politics."

Gov. Rauner and his wife, Diana, came in seventh.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
4:56 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

Rauner Raises Unions' Ire With Right-To-Work Plan

Gov. Bruce Rauner says there's a "corrupt bargain" between unions and politicians; he singles out Gov. Pat Quinn for getting campaign contributions from labor, then working out deals that Rauner says advantaged unions. One labor leader called the "corrupt bargain" notion illegal, and questioned if Rauner's beholden to the businessmen who've put millions of dollars into his campaign fund.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Gov. Bruce Rauner amped up his anti-union rhetoric Tuesday at a speech in Decatur, a city with deep labor roots.  The Republican bemoaned prevailing wage  requirements on public projects for costing the state extra, said Project Labor Agreements are synonymous with "uncompetitive bidding" and introduced a plan to create local right-to-work zones.  

Unions are on edge about what Rauner has in store for them. He has railed against “government union bosses,” and names Indiana's former Gov. Mitch Daniels as a political role model. It's Daniels who made Indiana a right-to-work state.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
7:14 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

Political Football With Sports Facilities Agency

Gov. Bruce Rauner has picked a campaign supporter, attorney Sanchez, as chairman of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority.
Credit Sanchez Daniels & Hoffman LLP

An ally of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner will chair the state agency that owns the Chicago White Sox stadium and oversaw the renovations of Soldier Field, but one of former Governor Pat Quinn's closest confidants will still retain his high-paying post.

The Illinois Sports Facilities Authority has been home base for all sorts of political wins and losses over the years. And there's a whole roster of players.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
4:20 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

Ousted State Public Health Director Off To Washington

Former Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health LaMar Hasbrouck has a new job, upon his being replaced by new Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Credit WUIS

Illinois' director of public health under former Governor Pat Quinn has found a new job.  

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
4:14 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

Could Rauner's Spending Hold Derail New Train Routes?

Credit Amanda Vinicky

Rail advocates are concerned Governor Bruce Rauner's executive order that puts a hold on non-essential state spending could be the end of the line for two projects that have been chugging along.

After long negotiations, Illinois has agreements to extend two passenger rail routes. One would to go Rockford, the other to the Quad Cities.

Little to no construction has been done on either so far, but head of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association Rick Harnish says 2015 was supposed to be the year.

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