Amanda Vinicky

Statehouse Bureau Chief/ The Players Blog

Read Amanda's "The Players" 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. 

State lawmakers Tuesday voted to reopen a prison work camp in deep southern Illinois, but the governor's office says the attempt is politically-motivated.

University of Illinois Public Affairs

The vitriol and finger-pointing over the gridlock in state government has amplified. University leaders are trying to keep their distance, even as they fight for funding.

csu.edu

A crisis management team has been formed to help Chicago State University navigate budgetary peril. State higher education leaders are working to prevent CSU from closing, after eight months of waiting on state funding.

All of Chicago State University’s 900 employees are on notice – they’ll lose their jobs if the governor and lawmakers don’t come through with cash.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Doing something about Illinois' underfunded retirement systems remains an immediate goal for Gov. Bruce Rauner but despite a loose agreement with a leading Democrat, that plan has stalled.

Springfield may be a desert when it comes to budget deals but it seemed like there was a small oasis -- an agreement between Gov. Rauner and Democratic Senate President John Cullerton on pensions.

Gov. Bruce Rauner stumped across Illinois to drum up support for education funding — K-12 education finding, at least. College students, particularly from low-income backgrounds, have no such luck.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Days after vetoing a measure to help low-income college students, Gov. Bruce Rauner signaled he's open to another way of making it happen.

Rauner's reason for rejecting the Democrats' funding plan was that it would have sent Illinois deeper into debt.

But Rauner -- a Republican -- has said he'd be OK with an alternate GOP approach -- because it's paired with money to back it up. The governor's doubling down on that notion.

Creative Commons: Chris He, 2009

Journalists in Illinois have come up short trying to get information about Governor Bruce Rauner's state email. Wednedsay, the governor gave his explanation for why.

State transparency laws mean requests for emails in which Rauner had done state business should have yielded something.   

Unless, of course -- even in this age of digital everything -- there aren't any.

"I have no email. None whatsoever," Rauner says.

Gov. Rauner says an email-free existence has improved his quality of life, and increased his productivity.

Barack Obama, Michael Madigan and John Cullerton
Pool photo by Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune

Illinois' leaders are still stuck in a budgetary quagmire, weeks after President Barack Obama came to Springfield to call for less polarization in politics.

For this episode of The Players: Your look into who's who in Illinois politics and what they're up to (or more precisely this time around -- your look into who's who in national politics and what they were up to when they visited Illinois).

Illinois lawmakers are beginning to craft a new state budget even though there still isn't one eight months into this fiscal year. There's no precedent for handling this murky situation. It go go any number of ways.

One option would have politicians craft a spending plan to cover this, the 2016 fiscal year ending June 30, before moving on. "I think we've kind of blown past that deadline already," Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said Wednesday following GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget address.

WIU students demonstrating.
Rich Egger / Tri States Public Radio

Low-income college students promised state help paying for tuition will continue to go without it. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has followed through on his pledge to reject funding for the Monetary Award Program.

Gov. Rauner vetoed Democratic-backed legislation to pay for so-called "MAP grants" Friday afternoon. Students had traveled to Springfield in recent days to rally in support of the plan.

Amanda Vinicky

Anti-smoking advocates want to raise the age for buying tobacco to 21, in an attempt to dissuade teenagers from picking up the habit.

You can vote at the age of 18, join the military, and for now buy cigarettes. Legislation (SB3011)  introduced by Sen. John Mulroe, D-Chicago, would require young adults to wait another four years.

Governor Bruce Rauner addressed the Illinois General Assembly this week with his vision for the next fiscal year, despite still having no agreement on a spending plan for the current year.  John O'Connor of the Associated Press joins the panel.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says it's shocking and unacceptable that the state is in its eighth month without a budget. Wednesday, he laid out his vision for finally ending the political stalemate that has paralyzed state government. The Republican's language was more conciliatory, but the ideas remain the same.

Illinois government has never gone this long without a budget. The big question going into the speech was -- would the governor say anything to change the dynamic that's brought about this historic impasse?

Education may once again receive special treatment from Republican Governor Bruce Rauner. He's set to unveils his plans for the state budget later Wednesday.

Rauner is in an unprecedented position: he's required to present a plan for a new, balanced state budget when Illinois is eight months into its current fiscal year without one and is running a $6 billion deficit.

But a document from Rauner's office shows he'll again propose a windfall for pre-K through high schools.

T-shirts are sold on the first day of the September 2012 teachers’ strike.
Chicago Teachers Union

Despite unions winning a small victory Tuesday in the Illinois House, state workers' future salaries, benefits and even a potential strike remain in limbo.

Amanda Vinicky / NPR | Illinois Public Radio

A just-issued court order does away with a law that third-party candidates say makes it difficult to run for certain offices in Illinois.

A tight contest for the Presidential nomination and competitive races for seats in the General Assembly could make for a gripping primary in Illinois next month. Deadlines loom if you plan to be a part of it.

Barack Obama
Pool photo by Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune

On Feb. 12 -- Abraham Lincoln's birthday -- officials released plans to salute another President with state ties.

Just days ago, on Wed., Feb. 10, President Barack Obama gave a major speech in Springfield, at the capitol, where he'd once served in the state Senate.

"Thank you for such a warm welcome as I come back home," he said to legislators' applause and hoots.

Dick Durbin, Barack Obama, Bruce Rauner, Jim Langfelder
Pool photo by Justin L. Fowler / The State Journal-Register

President Barack Obama returned to Springfield to address the Illinois General Assembly this week. He's renewing the central argument of his first campaign for president: that most Americans want a less bitter, less divisive form of politics. Did his message resonate with Illinois lawmakers?

Barack Obama outside the Old State Capitol
Pool photo by Justin L. Fowler / The State Journal-Register

On a freezing February day in 2007, President Barack Obama announced his bid for the nation's highest office in front of the Old State Capitol in downtown Springfield -- the place where Abraham Lincoln gave his historic "House Divided" speech. At the time, Obama called for hope and change.

Nine years later -- to the very day -- Obama came back to Springfield. In his last year as president, he says he believes in the "politics of hope."

The themes of Obama's speech yesterday echoed what he'd said nine years ago, back when his hair hadn't yet gone gray.

npr.org

Nine years after he came to Springfield to announce he was running for President, Barack Obama will return to the state capitol Wednesday. He'll address Illinois representatives and senators at the statehouse.

Obama will be only the fourth sitting president to speak before a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly. President William Howard Taft did it in 1911, Herbert Hoover in 1933, then Jimmy Carter in 1978.

Amanda Vinicky

Eight years, tops, and he's out. That was a promise Bruce Rauner made on the campaign trail. The promise of term limits helped get him elected as Illinois' governor. But he hasn't been able to persuade lawmakers to get on board with putting a hard deadline on their own careers; same goes for redistricting.

In his latest attempt at persuasion, Rauner --- a Republican — cited Illinois' most powerful, well-known Democrat: None other than President Barack Obama, who of course will soon be returning to Springfield to address Illinois lawmakers.

What each man has said lately about term limits and redistricting is the subject of this latest edition of The Players, your guide to who's who in Illinois politics and what they're up to.

Electronic cigarettes don't contain tobacco, but the vaporized solution users inhale does contain nicotine.

Sen. Julie Morrison, a Democrat from Deerfield, says she doesn't consider them safe.

Morrison says she'd kept stories about young people "openly and blatantly using these products publicly, because there was no reason they shouldn't. There was nothing in law that prevented them from doing that.”

Morrison is sponsor of a new law, signed Friday, that she says closes a loophole.

WIU students demonstrating.
Rich Egger / Tri States Public Radio

The Illinois Senate President is encouraging Governor Bruce Rauner to rethink his priorities on student aid legislation, but the governor was quick to repeat his promise of a veto.

Senate President John Cullerton says he'll hold onto legislation for a couple of weeks, to give the governor time to "cool off," then he'll send it to Rauner for action.

In a statement, Cullerton urges Rauner to "not act rashly, but in the best interest of students, their futures, and the future of Illinois."

Congressman Rodney Davis (Facebook page)

Military police from Illinois' National Guard will soon be in Afghanistan; they'll do security there for much of this year.

Per tradition, Lt. Col. Michael Hough reads the mobilization order: 233rd Military Police Company, ordered to Active Duty in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel, Afghanistan," sending some 30 soldiers on a mission, first to Texas for training, then to Afghanistan.

"We all enlisted at a time of war; this is what we enlisted to do," said one of them, Sgt. Michael Johnson, the team medic, is Sgt. Michael Johnson.

Illinois Issues/WUIS

Next month, President Barack Obama will return to the place where his political career began -- Springfield, Illinois -- to address state legislators.


Governor Bruce Rauner gave his second annual State of the State address before a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly this week.  Doug Finke of the State Journal-Register joins the panel.

College of DuPage

College campuses (and the politics behind them) are taking center stage in Springfield's festering stalemate.

Amanda Vinicky

Roughly one year ago, Gov. Bruce Rauner stood before lawmakers and unveiled his so-called "turnaround agenda." He didn't use that phrase this time around. But Wednesday, the governor used his state-of-the-state address to continue fighting for his stalled vision. Rauner has spent months berating Democrats for failing to get on board. Not this time. He gave a more conciliatory message, and talked about "mutual respect." That wasn't enough for some of his critics, who don't trust the governor, or his change in tone.


Brian Mackey/WUIS

 Gov. Bruce Rauner will give his second annual State of the State address at noon Wednesday. After a year of stalemate, he's expected to make some effort to bridge a bipartisan divide.

In the year since the governor first laid out his agenda for the state, none of it has passed. Rauner has been unequivocal. Despite Democrats' resistance, and pressure on groups demanding a budget, he's not dropping his controversial prescription for a so-called "turnaround."

"We're not going to back down on it, we're not going to give in on it," he said Monday.

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