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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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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Illinois Issues - Leadership
4:11 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

Speaker Madigan: How Can Illinois Prevent A Sandy Hook?

It has been two years or so since 26 people -- most of them young children -- died in a massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The shooter was 20-year-old Adam Lanza.

A report studying him was released late last year by Connecticut's child advocate office; it shows problems identifying and treating his mental illness.

"There were several missed opportunities to help Lanza," said longtime Speaker of the Illinois House Michael Madigan on the opening day of the new General Assembly.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
2:57 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

Court Rejects Request To Delay Pension Case

It took legislators - here, meeting in a conference committee - years to reach a compromise on a pension overhaul; the law they finally passed is facing a constitutional challenge.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

The fate of Illinois' pension law will stay on the fast track. Illinois' Supreme Court justices today rejected a request for a delay.

It can take a long time for a case to wend its way through the courts. But after a Sangamon County judge in November ruled Illinois' overhaul of public worker pensions unconstitutional, the state Supreme Court agreed to take up the case on an expedited basis.

On Tuesday, lawyers contesting the law tried to slow it down by a month.

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Illinois Issues - Education Desk
6:08 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

State Board Of Education Asks For More Money

State Superintendent Christopher Koch
Credit isbe.state.il.us

  Even as Illinois runs ever shorter on cash, the board of education is asking for $730 million increase in state funding.

Illinois' superintendent of schools is well aware of the state's financial strain. Christopher Koch has been in charge as over the past several years, the state has failed to come through with all the money it's supposed to give to meet local district's basic needs.

But, Koch says, "education is the smartest investment we can make in the economic future of our state."

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Fender Bender
4:31 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

Governor Unhurt In Chicago Car Accident

Gov. Bruce Rauner, R-Winnetka, was not hurt in an accident on Wednesday.
Credit flickr.com/appleswitch (Creative Commons)

Gov. Bruce Rauner is okay after he was involved in a car accident today in Chicago.

Rauner's motorcade was stopped at a red light on E. Randolph Street in Chicago, when two cars got into accident in front of him in the intersection, at Michigan Avenue. One of those cars spun out, hitting the black 2012 Ford Expedition Rauner was in, at 8:13 Wednesday morning.

State police say Rauner's fine, and the officers that are on his security detail are too. Three people did go to Northwestern Medical Center to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
8:25 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Lobbying Firm Employee Pleads Guilty To Embezzling

Hotel rooms.

Clothes.

A visit to the spa.  

Groceries. 

Alas, not my "to do" list (a visit to the spa? I wish! Though I do actually need to buy some groceries ...); that was what Alice Foss, a 53-year-old Springfield woman, admitted to buying with the $400,000 she'd embezzled from her employer, the lobbying and consulting firm Don Moss and Associates. 

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Pensions
7:50 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Potential Pension Case Holdup

Credit Illinois Supreme Court

As they seek to permanently toss Illinois' pension overhaul, state employees and retirees are asking the state Supreme Court for more time to make their arguments. Lawyers filed the request Tuesday.

It's a case that's supposed to be on the fast track: After a Sangamon County judge in November found Illinois' pension law unconstitutional, the Attorney General appealed straight to the state supreme court -- which agreed to hear it on an expedited basis.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
5:37 am
Mon January 19, 2015

Bonuses On The Table, As New Governor Greets Employees Via Video

Unions in Illinois fought to keep Gov. Bruce Rauner from winning; more battles may be ahead.
Credit wuis

Gov. Bruce Rauner's campaign rhetoric was a turnoff for Illinois' public employee unions; he continually blamed "union bosses" for contributing to the state's financial woes. Now Rauner's making direct appeals to workers.

It wasn't just the campaign; during his inaugural address, Rauner touched again on what labor leaders consider an anti-union theme. He said Illinois has an ethical crisis because taxpayers “see government union bosses negotiating sweetheart deals across the table from governors they've spent tens of millions of dollars to help elect."

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
10:21 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Election's Over, But Rauner, Quinn Keep Hurling Insults

Bruce Rauner has signed several executive orders since becoming governor; here, he signs one aimed at ethics.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Much of what Pat Quinn did in his final hours as Illinois' governor has been undone. Governor Bruce Rauner immediately withdrew Quinn's 100 last-minute appointments to state boards and commissions. Now, he's rescinded Quinn's last executive orders.

It's been said that when Quinn issued his final set of executive orders, he was also laying a booby trap for the man taking his spot.

One order required the state pay contractors $10, the amount Quinn had tried to make Illinois' minimum wage -- a topic over which Rauner stumbled during the campaign.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
3:24 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

"The Voice" Of Cullerton's Family

Senate President John Cullerton (right) takes his oath of office; he's served in the Senate since 1991.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

When the Senators were inaugurated to the 99th General Assembly this week, President John Cullerton wasn't the only member of his family behind the podium.

Cullerton's nephew, Michael Lynch -- who starred on "The Voice" in 2013 -- sang the "Star Spangled Banner" at the beginning of the ceremony. 

Take a listen: 

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Local Governments Too
12:29 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Political Hires' Names To Be Made Public

Gov. Bruce Rauner signs Executive Order 15-10 at a press conference with Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Anyone will be able to look up the names of political appointees to state jobs under an executive order Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed Thursday, Jan. 15.

  By law, the vast majority of state employees are to be hired based on merit, not their political affiliation. Higher-level jobs are the exception. A governor gets to choose whoever he wants to be in his inner circle, and in policy-driven jobs. Rauner's executive order requires the names of these political hires to be published on a state website.

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Refuses Comment On Quinn Tax Return Bait
4:47 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Rauner Signs "Big Deal" Ethics Executive Order

On his first full day as governor, Bruce Rauner signed an executive order that puts in place new ethics requirements and restrictions; he's flanked by Republican Sen. Darrin LaHood of Peoria, and Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highland Park.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

State employees will have to be more forthcoming about their volunteer work, legal status and property holdings under an executive order Gov. Bruce Rauner signed this afternoon. At the same time, the new governor was unwilling to specify what more he'll disclose about his finances.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
12:43 am
Tue January 13, 2015

Advice For Gov. Bruce Rauner

Gov. Bruce Rauner's campaign speech said he'll make Illinois a "national leader in job growth and education quality" -- there's plenty of divergent advice on what that means, and how to do it.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Yesterday, on Mon. Jan. 12, 2015,  Illinois got a new governor:  Bruce Rauner -- the first Republican to win the governor's mansion in more than a decade.. The former private equity investor spent a record $26 million to win his first ever bid for elected office. And he didn't stop there. At the end of the year, Rauner contributed another $10 million that his spokespeople say he'll use to advance his agenda. Questions abound over what exactly that agenda is. He made a lot of campaign promises, but so far has painted his mission for Illinois in broad strokes.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
6:02 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Cullerton: I Don't Know What "Non-Essential" Means, Bet Rauner Doesn't Either

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

In one of his first acts as Illinois' new governor, Republican Bruce Rauner Monday said he'll issue an executive order requiring all state agencies to stop spending money they don't have to.

The main theme of Rauner's campaign was that Illinois' finances are a mess, need fixing, and that he's the man to do it. He continued that message during his inaugural address, saying "we have an opportunity to accomplish something historic; to fix years of busted budgets and broken government."

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Statehouse
7:24 am
Mon January 12, 2015

Vinicky Discusses Quinn's Last and Rauner's First

Governor Pat Quinn will spend his final hours in office in Chicago while Bruce Rauner is inaugurated as the State's 42nd Governor in Springfield.

Bill Wheelhouse and Amanda Vinicky discuss final actions by the outgoing Governor and the first likely actions by the incoming Governor.

WUIS will have live coverage of the inaugural at 11:50 a.m.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
5:11 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

Movin' Out; Rates Rising

Say what you will about Gov. Pat Quinn, but the man has been devoted to Illinois government and politics for much of his adult life. 

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
3:38 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

Electric Rate Hike Extension Bill Likely To Be Left In Rauner's Lap

Sen. President John Cullerton has kept a "motion to reconsider" on a measure that extends an electric rate formula since it passed the General Assembly in December.
Credit www.ilga.gov

The president of the Illinois Senate is continuing to withhold a piece of legislation from Gov. Pat Quinn.

At the tail end of its session, members of the General Assembly rushed to pass a measure that makes it easier for Illinois' big utilities, Ameren and Commonwealth Edison, to charge more for delivering power.

The companies say it's necessary so they can continue to improve the electric grid. But legislators' quick action came to an abrupt halt when Senate President John Cullerton used a parliamentary maneuver to keep the measure from going to Gov. Quinn.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
9:27 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

What Rauner's Been Telling Rank And File Legislators

During his first capitol press conference, Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner vowed to get to know every legislator; he's making progress.

If you listened to Bruce Rauner on the campaign trail, you'd think that he would want to steer clear of Illinois' lawmakers. He reviled them. Especially those who had long careers in Springfield. Rauner, remember, ran on a platform advocating for term limits. But that was before he won election. Now, as he prepares to be Illinois' next governor, Rauner has spent a time reaching out to the politicians he'd once vilified. Amanda Vinicky checked in with some of them about how it went.

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Statehouse
6:40 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Rauner Calls Special Election Bill "Constitutionally Dubious"

A vacancy was created in the comptroller's office following the death of Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, 70, from complications of a stroke.
Credit Comptroller website

A special election next year for the office of Illinois comptroller is almost surely on the horizon. Democratic members of the Illinois General Assembly hurried Thurs., Jan 8 to pass a measure setting it up.

It goes back to last month, when Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka suddenly died. She was about to begin a new, four-year term.

Topinka, it's worth noting, was a Republican. As is Illinois' next governor, Bruce Rauner, who is to be sworn in Monday.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
1:59 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Special Elections Bill Passes Senate, On To House

Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, a Chicago Democrat, argues that it's constitutional, and within the General Assembly's rules, to pass a law creating a special election for comptroller in 2016.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  Legislators are back at the capitol, where they have begun debating the prospect of a special election for comptroller in 2016. The Illinois Senate passed the measure this afternoon, Thurs. Jan 8, on a partisan vote, and now it's on to the House.

It became an issue after Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka suddenly died, ahead of beginning a new four-year term.

House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie say voters should have the opportunity to choose someone, rather than letting an appointee hold the post for such a long time.

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Statehouse
3:53 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

2016 Special Election Chances Rise With Speaker's Support

Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner's choice for comptroller, Leslie Munger, would have a two-year appointment, should legislation pass to set a special election in 2016.
Credit Munger '14 Campaign Website http://votemunger.com/about-leslie/

Chances the state will hold a special election for comptroller in 20-16 have improved, now that the Illinois House Speaker has signaled his support. Lawmakers will be back in Springfield for special session Thurs., Jan 8 to vote on it.

Speaker Michael Madigan's spokesman, Steve Brown, says Madigan will support giving voters a say, instead of allowing an appointee to take over long-term. Brown had previously only said that Madigan believed the future of the comptroller's office was a matter to be settled by the executive branch.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
6:33 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Vacancy Election Plan Goes Beyond Comptroller Post

State Comptroller Judy Barr Topinka's sudden passing has set in motion possible changes for filling vacancies in statewide office.
Credit Comptroller website

 A measure has been filed that would prompt a special election in 2016 for Illinois Comptroller. The vacancy created in the office following the death of Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka in December exposed what some say is a weak spot in Illinois Constitution, as Topinka was set to begin a new, four-year term. The legislation would put in place a new method that would limit the length of gubernatorial appointments to fill such openings.

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