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. 

ilga.gov

Governor Bruce Rauner has named a longtime Republican state representative -- Raymond Poe of Springfield -- to head the state's agriculture department. 

Democrats in the Illinois legislature fell one vote short of being able to undo governor Bruce Rauner's cuts to state daycare subsidies, with democratic state representative Ken Dunkin of Chicago facing criticism for allying himself with the republican governor.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois has gone four and a half months without a budget. It's gone even longer -- five and a half months -- since the governor and leaders of the legislature have all gotten together to talk about it; the last time that happened was at the end of May. They're scheduled to finally come together next week, on Wed., Nov. 18 But the meeting's particulars have themselves become a subject of controversy.

Lisa Ryan

A month and a half after the Illinois State Museum shut its doors to visitors, lawmakers Tuesday passed a measure that could lead to its reopening.

The Illinois State Museum and its affiliated sites shut their doors to visitors at the end of September. Advocates have mourned the loss of the Springfield-based museum, which also hosts researchers and preserves millions of artifacts, from mastodon skeletons to Native American relics.

Illinois State Museum

 The Illinois State Museum and its affiliated sites shut their doors to visitors at the end of September. Legislators Tuesday took action that could result in its reopening ... one day. 

Amanda Vinicky

Five months into operating without a state budget, Illinois Democrats and Republicans came together Tuesday to pass a budget bill. But it was a relatively minor one; a full agreement is sure to be a ways off.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois state Rep. Ken Dunkin, a Democrat from Chicago, made headlines in September when he skipped votes on two controversial measures Democrats wanted to pass.

Amanda Vinicky

Donald Trump used a campaign stop in Springfield Monday to further stir up controversy over what Starbucks is serving its java in.

It seems that Starbuck's new, ombre red holiday cups aren't Trump's cup of tea (or of coffee, as the case may be).

Some Christians are upset with the cups' new design, which doesn't feature reindeer or ornaments, like in years' past; they view it as a sign the chain is removing Christmas.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois isn't typically a state presidential candidates spend time campaigning in early in the campaign season. But a year out from the general election, Republican front-runner Donald Trump got an enthusiastic reception Monday at a rally in the capitol city.

The Capitol
Brian Mackey/WUIS

A 50-year holiday tradition will light up the Illinois statehouse after all, even if a Grinch-like budget gridlock carries on through the rest of the year. Crews will hang strings of Christmas lights over the dome this morning.

Not having a state budget has led to a lot of consequences. One of the more visible ones: Secretary of State Jesse White announced last week the capitol would have to go dark for the holidays. White says the office can't afford it.

Brian Mackey/WUIS

Thousands of low-income families would once be able to get state help paying for child care  under a compromise deal introduced Monday by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Host Amanda Vinicky (Illinois Public Radio) and guests Brian Mackey (Illinois Public Radio) and Dave Dahl (Illinois Radio Network) discuss the year since private equity investor Bruce Rauner won election as governor, how seriously to take rumblings that former Gov. Pat Quinn wants a rematch, and the ongoing slow-motion shutdown of state government.

Thousands of senior citizens and persons with disabilities are waiting to learn if Illinois will change how it determines who qualifies for state aid and what kind of services are provided. As the state's embroiled in budget gridlock, it's one of the areas Governor Bruce Rauner tried to cut back on spending. But legislators (including a handful of Rauner's fellow Republicans, a rarity) voted to prevent that.

On Friday, Rauner used his veto powers in an apparent attempt to strike a balance.

Advocates for senior citizens and people with disabilities are assessing how action Friday by the Republican governor affects services they say they depend on.

Early this year, Gov. Bruce Rauner unveiled a plan to save money, by making it harder for the elderly and disabled individuals to qualify for government aid.

People not deemed needy enough would no longer receive state-provided home care workers, or state-paid nursing home care.

Gov. Bruce Rauner continues downplaying the prospects for the upcoming meeting between he and state legislative leaders. Meanwhile, the partial government shutdown means some state universities might have a hard time making it through the spring semester. The Chicago Tribune's Monique Garcia joins the panel to talk about that and more on the latest episode of State Week.

City Club of Chicago

What's it like to be in charge of the state budget ... when there is no state budget? That's the topic for this edition of The Players: your look into who's who in Illinois politics and what they're up to.

The cost of the system, so far, is covered by a $9 million federal grant. The State Board of Education estimates the first-year cost of developing the program at about $1.1 million, followed by $2.5 million each of the next three years.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner has so far focused his attention on business and union issues, and restructuring state government - like workers' compensation, tort reform and legislative term limits. But what about his education agenda?

At East Alton-Wood River High School, as well in schools across the state, the measurement of academic improvement is based on a single test given over two days once a year. “It’s silly to measure a school’s performance by that,” says the Superintendent.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The makeup of Illinois schools is changing. If you moved every desk, from every Illinois school, into one giant classroom, more than half of the kids in those seats would be students of color.

That's on par with national figures; last year the U.S. Department of Education signaled that minorities would outnumber whites at the nation's public schools.

Good news on the state budget: It seems the governor will finally meet with all four legislative leaders to discuss their differences. Bad news on the state budget: Gov. Bruce Rauner says he doesn't expect much to come of it. And yet: "I wouldn't give up hope so soon," House Speaker Michael Madigan said of the governor's remarks.

Illinois Supreme Court Building
Illinois Supreme Court

Judicial races are getting increasingly politicized, according to a study published Thursday surveying 2013-2014 state Supreme Court races called "Bankrolling the Bench."

Days after an Illinois high school student died from football injuries, a Cook County judge has dismissed a lawsuit alleging the sports' governing body didn't do enough to protect athletes.

SEIU TV ad
SEIU Healthcare Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner recently reached an agreement with a trio of unions -- representing some 300 plumbers, machinists and engineers and operators. But he's still at odds with unions representing the bulk of state employees: the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and the Service Employees International Union.

SEIU represents home care workers -- people who help the disabled and elderly care for themselves. Denise Gaines, legislative director of SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana, says now, these workers get paid to take important training.

Brass rail outside the Governor's office
Amanda Vinicky / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Mark your calendars. A date has been set. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has called a meeting with the legislature's leaders to talk about the budget impasse for Nov. 18.

Illinois still has no budget plan and no progress on an agreement is in sight.  The state is spending far more than it's taking in, higher education and social services have largely been left out to dry, and Illinois' credit rating continues to be downgraded.  Meanwhile, Governor Rauner is beginning to face criticism from within his own party.  Kurt Erickson of Lee Enterprises joins the panel discussion this week.

WUIS

Illinois has twice seen its credit rating take a hit this week.

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

 On the state's 113th day without a budget, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner Thursday sloughed off critical comments made by his a pair of his predecessors.

Former Gov. Jim Edgar's still a popular figure within the Illinois GOP, which is why the harsh nature of his recent remarks garnered a lot of attention. Edgar scolded Rauner for putting his pro-business agenda ahead of the budget.

Then another Republican Governor from the past - James Thompson -- also said that Illinois' is in the worst position it's ever been.

WUIS

Illinois lawmakers' one-day session Tuesday yielded no budget breakthroughs. The state's been without a spending plan for what'll soon reach five months.

ILGA.gov

Illinois lawmakers have been unable to come together on a state budget, but they did reach a significant bipartisan agreement Tuesday.

Wikimedia commons

Members of the Illinois House and Senate will be in Springfield again Tuesday, but there's still no budget deal for them to vote on.

Illinois' public university presidents had warned in a letter of the "irreparable damage" being caused by having to wait three months, and counting, for state money to come their way. Now, they're taking their case to the capitol. University leaders could have audiences with the governor, and legislative leaders. Senate President John Cullerton's spokeswoman, Rikeesha Phelon, Cullerton will set aside time to meet with them.

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