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. 

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?

It's the budget deadline day in Illinois. If a meeting yesterday between Governor Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders is any indication, they're not going to make it.

It's seemingly been weeks since Rauner, a Republican, meet with all four of the legislative leaders. Since what's believed to have been the last time they were all together, the governor began airing ads that attack Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan. The state has also gotten a lot closer to a partial shutdown since then. They all got together yesterday.

Illinois State Capitol Dome in clouds
Brian Mackey / WUIS - Illinois Issues

Illinois legislators will return to Springfield Tuesday, leaving them one last day to get a budget deal in order. This year's spending plan expires at midnight on June 30. Not only is there no long-term agreement, there's no sign of a provisional one either.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Illinois begins the fiscal year without a new budget. Governor Bruce Rauner revised his plan. He's now offering Chicago and other municipalities some pension relief.

State Week: Countdown To (Fiscal) New Year

Jun 26, 2015

The week began with a complete budget proposal — albeit billions out of balance — awaiting action by the governor. It ended with a near-total veto. Only money for pre-school, elementary and secondary education was spared the knife. But could that actually worsen the state bidget standoff?

WUIS/Lisa Ryan

Tuesday is "deadline day" for state government.  But one deadline is being given a month-long extension.

June 30th is the final day of the fiscal year; after which, the current budget expires. It's also the final day of the state's contract with its largest public employees union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Illinois is without a spending plan, with less than a week until the new fiscal year begins. Democrats in the General Assembly approved one, but Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed nearly the whole thing Thursday.

Kevin Wong/flickr

Illinois schools will be able to open on time this fall, despite an ongoing budget stalemate at the statehouse.

Schools not having the money to operate had been a worry, given Gov. Bruce Rauner's condemnation of the spending plan passed by Democratic legislators.

It isn't anymore.


Legislators' return to Springfield Wednesday failed to result in real movement toward a state budget agreement, with just one week remaining before the state loses its spending authority.

To hear House Speaker Michael Madigan tell it, Democrats are trying.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has given five conditions that must be met before he'll consider a tax hike that could balance the budget.