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

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.

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.

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