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. 

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

State employees have begun receiving pink slips, as a budget impasse looms -- a total of 171 workers will lose their jobs. Workers have gotten notice that they'll be out of work by the end of September.

John Cullerton
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Local property taxes would be frozen for two years under a measure approved Tuesday by the Illinois Senate. That's on Gov. Bruce Rauner's wish-list, but Republicans are still against the plan.

After a failed attempt last month, Democratic Senate President John Cullerton shepherded his proposal through.

How much money local governments could ask taxpayers for would be stuck for a couple years -- something Rauner, a Republican, insists happen before he'll negotiate with Democrats on the budget.

Amanda Vinicky / WUIS / Illinois Issues

  The governor and Democratic legislators yesterday came to a budget agreement, but only a minor one. A broader stalemate continues.

Anything to do with state spending this year has pretty much been split down party lines. Democrats passed a spending plan, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed almost all of it. That's what has Illinois into its second month without a budget. Then, yesterday, a thaw. Senators -- from both parties -- voted to spend $5 billion dollars, of federal money; the state just serves as a pass through.

Il. Supreme Court website -

Illinois may not be done with the 2013 law reducing state employees’ pensions after all. The Attorney General appears to be readying to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois' unemployment rate continues to drop. That would seem to be good news, but the governor sees a dark cloud in that silver lining.

For the past 16 months, Illinois' unemployment rate has continually declined. The latest figures show numbers falling in every metro area. Statewide, the rate's 5.9-percent.

Good news for the economy, right? Not necessarily, says Gov. Bruce Rauner.

A stretch of central Illinois road may be re-named after one of baseball's greats.

The Illinois House has adopted a resolution that would designate a section of Route 24 in and near Peoria as the "Jim Thome Highway."

Thome hails from Peoria, and went on to a successful Major League Baseball career.

The area's State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, a Democrat, says Thome was a prolific hitter. He was on the Chicago White Sox when he reached the sluggers' gold standard of hitting 500 home runs.

William Holland was first appointed as auditor general in 1992.
Lane Christiansen

The search for a new state Auditor General has begun in earnest.

The Auditor General serves as Illinois governments' top internal investigator. It's a job that Bill Holland has held for more than two decades. But last month, he announced he's stepping down.

A bipartisan legislative commission says it's accepting applications for his replacement.

Cigarette vending machine converted to art dispenser.
Amanda Vinicky / WUIS - Illinois Issues

If you were to draw lines pointing in from Champaign, Springfield, Indianapolis and Effigham, they'd meet in Tuscola. The town's population of less than 5 ,000 may well double on weekends, when shoppers from all over central Illinois flock to its outlet mall.


As Illinois' $36-billion budget remains in limbo, the state's top political leaders have been focusing on a much smaller number: roughly $250,000 in spending. That's roughly how much Illinois is set to spend this year paying legislators a raise. Republicans and Democrats both say the focus over pay is a distraction, while at the same time denouncing each other for enabling what they claim to be excessive salaries.

Amanda Vinicky

Republican legislators can expect the money they've received from Gov. Bruce Rauner to keep flowing, if the governor holds true to his word.


Gov. Bruce Rauner wants the legislature's help in making two big changes to the state's constitution, but the Illinois House Speaker isn't on board. It's one of various causes of gridlock at the state capitol.

With still no agreement on a state budget for the fiscal year, questions remain over even a temporary spending plan for the next month.  However, state workers are still receiving paychecks while awaiting a ruling from the state Supreme Court.  Ed Cross, Capitol Reporter for WAND-TV joins the panel.

Illinois now has an official state vegetable: corn.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed it into law today without fanfare.

However, he's scheduled to attend an annual sweet corn festival this evening in Chatham, a suburb of Springfield. Local elementary school students had promoted making sweet corn the state vegetable as a class project.

public domain

Not so long ago, prior to 1999, Illinois considered bobcats a threatened species. Come winter, hunters will be able to harvest the cats.

Gov. Bruce Rauner is an avid hunter -- of birds. No word on if that hobby contributed to his decision to sign a new law, authorizing bobcat hunting.

His office sent word of his signature without comment.

Illinois State Museum in Springfield
Lisa Ryan / WUIS - Illinois Issues

Supporters of the Illinois State Museum told state legislators Monday a slew of reasons why it should remain open, but it doesn't appear like anyone who will make the decision on its future was there to hear much of it.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois' high court has been asked to decide once and for all whether Illinois can pay government workers when there's no state budget.

Illinois Comptroller website

Despite uncertainty bred from dueling court rulings ... Illinois' Comptroller is issuing paychecks to state employees.  It's a continued issue, as Illinois has been without a spending plan since the start of the month.

Box truck with petitions from front to back
Amanda Vinicky / WUIS - Illinois Issues

Even as Gov. Bruce Rauner pushes for legislators to authorize a new way of drawing the state’s political map, a citizen-driven initiative is underway

Amanda Vinicky

There's no clear path forward on a long-term budget solution for Illinois, and temporary solutions are murky too. As the stalemate in Springfield persists, Democrats are moving forward with an emergency spending plan, that would cover "essential" services through July. It would also keep state workers' paychecks coming for the next month.

Amanda Vinicky / WUIS - Illinois Issues

In the midst of a budget stalemate, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says he's re-introducing his five-point agenda, with some changes. The Republican is also putting out a new pension plan.

A Cook County judge's ruling Tuesday that state employees won't receive their salaries during a budget impasse adds a new wrinkle as the Republican Governor and Democratic-led legislature struggle to reach an agreement.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan heatshot

A Cook County judge has ruled Illinois may not continue to pay
state workers in full during an ongoing budget impasse.
 Judge Diane Joan Larsen ruled Tuesday that Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger
may pay only some workers who are covered under a federal law. Those workers
would receive federal minimum wage plus overtime.
 But attorneys for Munger say it would take the state as long as a year to
determine which employees would be paid under federal law and how much.

Amanda Vinicky

Voters throughout central Illinois on Tuesday will winnow down the options for who will replace Aaron Schock in Congress. Schock, a Republican, left his seat in March following a swirl of controversy, and weighty ethical questions.

Shock's resignation forced Illinois to schedule a special election. After a brief campaign, it's time for the primary. Head of the Democratic Party of Illinois, House Speaker Michael Madigan, says Democrats will be "competitive."

Peter Gray / WUIS - Illinois Issues

A week into its new fiscal year, Illinois has no new spending plan in place. And it could be awhile before there is one. Illinois isn't alone.

Across the border in Wisconsin, lawmakers can't reach a spending deal. Over on the east coast, North Carolina is in budgetary flux. Pennsylvania's negotiations are dragging on.

Fiscal year 2016 is upon us and Illinois still doesn’t have a budget.  Will Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner ever reach an agreement with legislative Democrats?  How quickly will state government grind to a halt?  And who will take the blame?  

Lisa Madigan at Inauguration 2015
Brian Mackey/WUIS

 A stalemate that's left Illinois without a budget has taken a new political turn. It comes as the Attorney General is asking a court to determine what bills Illinois can pay when the state has no spending authority.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has been feuding with Democrats, especially Speaker of the Illinois House Michael Madigan. Now Rauner's taking aim at the Speaker's daughter, Attorney General Lisa Madigan.


Doctors who care for patients on Medicaid, drug treatment counselors, and probation officers could all go without pay because Illinois is without a new budget. But elected officials will keep getting their paychecks.

Without a budget, Illinois loses its spending authority -- much of it anyway. Some spending is built in by law, automatic: like paying off debt, sending municipalities their cut of the income tax, and lawmakers' pay.

Michael Madigan
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois is officially without a state budget -- the deadline to pass one came and went any movement toward a compromise. Lawmakers are poised to vote on a temporary version Wednesday.

Brian Mackey/WUIS

Even if Illinois lawmakers and the governor can't reach a budget deal by Wednesday, state employees have another two weeks before they really need to worry about being paid. That's when their first paychecks of the new fiscal year are set to be issued.  But there's confusion over whether they'll get money after that point, or not.

An email sent by Gov. Rauner takes a reassuring tone.

"State employees will be paid for their work --- and I will do everything within my power to ensure you don’t miss a single payroll," he writes.

But will the money come through?