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

It'll be 2016 before Illinois' top political leaders meet again, as a historic stalemate grinds on. 

City of Wheaton website

Illinois has more individual units of government than any other state. A report approved Thursday by a gubernatorial task force says that ought to change.

Eliminating the requirement that governments print public notices in newspapers, allowing citizens to use referendum to dissolve units of local government, and repealing the prevailing wage (which stipulates what construction workers get paid for government projects): These are the recommendations that'll be included in the report.

Amanda Vinicky

Gov. Bruce Rauner and the legislative leaders went half a year without all getting together, but Thursday they met for the third time in as many weeks ... most of them anyway.  A major player was missing.

The private meeting in the governor's office lasted an hour and 40 minutes.

Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno described it as a "good" meeting.

"We are still talking about the same issues we've been talking about," she said. "We'll be digging in a little deeper on pensions and workers' comp. We also talked about redistricting reform, term limits."

Evalyn Sanguinetti at Inauguration 2015
Brian Mackey/WUIS

The finishing touches are going on a plan to streamline local government costs.

One of Gov. Bruce Rauner's controversial ideas, is to give local governments the option to discontinue collective bargaining. That's something state law requires now.

The task force chaired by Rauner's lieutenant governor, Evelyn Sanguinetti has embraced the idea.

By the end of this year, Sanguinetti says the group will have a report published, with that and other recommendations for finding mandates that can be done away with, room for government consolidation, and cutting costs.

flickr/DavidWilson

Campaign contributions to former Governor Rod Blagojevich may have sealed the fate for a pair of historic Illinois racetracks. But not if some state legislators have their way.

npr.org

  Even with all of its fiscal troubles Illinois will have to put nearly $8 billion into its retirement systems next year -- that's a quarter of the state's expected revenue. Legislative leaders and the governor may finally be poised to begin talking about how they may be able to reduce costs.

During a speech in Chicago this week, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan was asked about the prospects for new taxes, while Governor Bruce Rauner said that he expects the budget stalemate to continue into the spring.   Despite the budget impasse, an agreement was made to send some money owed to Illinois municipalities, as well as to the lottery and Secretary of State.  Matt Dietrich of RebootIllinois.com joins the panel.

A year ago, Illinois' income tax rate fell by 25-percent. The top Democrat in the Illinois House is suggesting it go back up.

Voice of America News: Henry Ridgwell from the Turkish border by Aleppo

Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, is denouncing recent anti-Muslim statements from his party's front-runner for president, but he's sticking to his position on Syrian refugees, and he's even taking it a step further.

Rauner described Donald Trump's call for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. as "an extreme action."

"What he's proposing is just fundamentally counter to American values," Rauner said Tuesday in response to reporters' questions. "I strongly, strongly disagree with candidate Trump."

police cars
flickr.com/appleswitch (Creative Commons)

  So far, it seems no police officers have been disciplined for helping conceal the circumstances under which Chicago teenager Laquan McDonald was killed. Because of that, a group of black lawmakers say Illinois should consider licensing police.

Illinois Lottery

The Illinois Lottery will resume paying out big prizes, thanks to a partial budget just signed into law. But that won't be enough to end a class-action lawsuit.

The jackpot's been out of reach, even for Lottery players lucky enough to win $600 or more. Illinois suspended paying larger prizes; without a budget, it didn't have the legal authority.

When you get your drivers' license renewed, chances are you're going to a building that the state doesn't own; it leases. Due to the budget impasse, Illinois hasn't paid its rent checks, electric or water bills since July.

Dave Druker, with the Secretary of State, says while most have been patient, one landlord was close to kicking the state out, and a utility sent a shutoff notice.

"You know these are folks that are in business. And they've honorably entered into contracts with us -- leases, and we hope that they can be paid as soon as possible," Druker said.

flickr/borman18

Money can now be released to local governments and community organizations that have been waiting for state funding since July. The Senate was in Springfield briefly Monday to approve the funding; within hours the governor had signed the plan into law.

An ideological, political feud between the governor and the Democrats who control Illinois' legislature has left the state without a budget.

But they've reach a minor agreement. Republicans had previously been against piecemeal budgets, but Governor Bruce Rauner says he was concerned about public safety.

Illinois Municipal League

Illinois Senators are poised to approve sending some $2 billion to local governments, money that thus far has been caught in the political fight between Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and legislative Democrats.

The funding will send 911 fees to the call centers, give municipalities their share of proceeds from video gaming and allow localities to pay for road salt.

After more than six months, Illinois' governor met with the four top legislative leaders to discuss the state's budget impasse. No progress was made, but all agreed to meet again someday soon. Mark Brown of the Chicago Sun-Times joins the panel.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois' unemployment insurance program will see some changes next year, the result of something that's rare in Springfield these days as a budget stalemate persists: hard-fought negotiations giving way to a compromise.

Courtesy of ILGA.gov

Illinois still has no full budget, but local governments, 911 call centers and the state lottery could soon get money.

Some legislators may have done it begrudgingly, but Democrats and Republicans alike voted for a measure that spends $3 billion.

It'll also pay for road salt, send money to domestic violence shelters, and cover police training. It seems to be a U-turn for Republicans, who've previously opposed such "piecemeal" budgeting.

flickr/borman18

Even with Illinois' ongoing budget stalemate, it wasn't until a coalition of good government groups called for a meeting between Gov. Bruce Rauner and all four legislative leaders that they agreed to get together.

Susan Garrett chairs one of those groups, the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

She says she's pleased with the result of Tuesday's summit.

Voice of America News: Henry Ridgwell from the Turkish border by Aleppo

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is rebuffing a bid by the White House to assuage concerns over Syrian refugees.

Rauner's one of some 30 governors nationwide who've said no to taking in people fleeing war-ravaged Syria. Rauner, a Republican, cited security concerns following the terror attacks in Paris. "What matters is a coordinated, cooperative, highly communicative effort at a national scale to protect the people of America against terrorists," he said in November.

The release of a police video documenting the fatal shooting of a black teen by a white Chicago police officer – more than a year after the incident – has led to murder charges, protests, accusations of a cover-up, and questions about political interference with the original investigation.  Also, Monday marks the candidate petition filing deadline for the March primary elections.  WBEZ's Tony Arnold joins the panel this week.

wnij

Illinois could see its already worst-in-the-nation credit rating sink further -- all the way down to "junk" status. Moody's Vice President Ted Hampton says investors have asked the ratings agency if that's even possible.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois is in uncharted territory. It'll soon hit its sixth month without a budget. 

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrats who dominate the legislature continue to spar about what Illinois' future should look like. Rauner wants to rein in unions; Democrats say that's akin to bolstering business tycoons at the expense of the middle class.

How long can it go on?

ILGA.gov

The race for Illinois comptroller has narrowed: There will no longer be a Democratic primary. State Sen.Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, has confirmed he will not run.

You could say the Democratic primary race for comptroller is over before it ever began; only today can candidates begin filing paperwork to run.

Christmas lights are up at the Illinois capitol, despite a brief period where it had appeared the state budget impasse would keep the dome dark. That interlude led to another outcome, appropriate during the season for giving.

The lights are on, thanks to a trio of unions that have offered to pay the state's Christmas lights electric bill.

But before that'd been finalized, Kristina Rasmussen had tried another method.

This week, Governor Bruce Rauner said he wants to prevent Syrian refugees from entering Illinois, the state Supreme Court heard arguments concerning a Chicago pension law, and a citizens' initiative to end gerrymandering gained momentum.   Kurt Erickson of Lee Enterprises joins the panel.

Wikimedia Commons

A task force created by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is trying to figure out how to reduce the number of local governments in the state. That group Thursday voted to recommend restrictions on organized labor. Members listening in via conference call heard an unexpected interlude.

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

Another set of unions have reached contract deals with Gov. Bruce Rauner. Amanda Vinicky looks at whether it's really a sign the Republican isn't quite as anti-union as his critics allege.

A press release from Rauner's office proclaims he's agreed to terms on new collective bargaining agreements with electrical workers, boilermakers, bricklayers and painters, covering some 500 employees.

The agreements include a "new performance incentive program," overtime earnings beyond a 40-hour work week, and a program "to address minority underutilization in state government."

Amanda Vinicky

The Illinois Supreme Court is taking on another pension case, six months after justices unanimously tossed out the state's landmark pension law. Tuesday they heard arguments as to whether a law affecting thousands of City of Chicago employees is constitutional or not.

The finished product uses shades of green, blue, rose and peach that match the marble throughout the Capitol.
Bethany Carson / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois' Governor and the four legislative leaders won't meet in Springfield this week after all; the gathering has been postponed until next month.

ilga.gov

Republicans interested in running for Raymond Poe's former district in the Illinois House have until 5 p.m. on Wed.,  Nov. 18 to submit an application to the Sangamon County GOP. Details are online at il99thvacancy.com.

Poe on Friday announced he'll begin Monday as the agriculture director, meaning he won't be running for reelection.

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