Amanda Vinicky

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. 

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

  There are only eight days left for them to reach a budget deal.

"It is critically important that we complete this task within the next eight days or it becomes much more difficult," Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said Monday.

More difficult, because it takes a supermajority -- rather than a simple one -- to pass a budget after the end of this month.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has gone out of his way to strike an optimistic tone that it can happen.

State of Illinois

Illinois' top political leaders remain divided. Tomorrow there will be only eight days left for them to reach a budget deal.

It's crunch time, says Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno:

"It is critically important that we complete this task within the next eight days or it becomes much more difficult."

More difficult, because it takes a supermajority -- rather than a simple one -- to pass a budget after the end of this month.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has gone out of his way to strike an optimistic tone that it can happen.

Flickr user Daniel Borman / "Money, Money, Money" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois' Speaker of the House says there's no reason for the governor to further hold up funding for social services. 

Legislation passed earlier this month would give homeless, autism and elderly support organizations about half their usual state financing, meaning social services caught in the 11 month budget impasse may get some money.

Flickr user Pictures of Money / "Money" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois workers get an added bonus once they retire -- they don't have to pay taxes on pension or Social Security checks.

It's one possible change the state could consider as it hunts for more money.

Illinois is a rare state that taxes income on a regular paycheck but not on retirement.

Fiscal experts -- like the non-partisan Civic Federation -- say that, as Illinois' population ages and there are more retirees and pensioners, the government will increasingly lose out on a source of revenue.

Amanda Vinicky/Illinois Public Radio

Union members flooded streets in front of the Illinois Statehouse to protest Gov. Bruce Rauner's agenda and what they say are his anti-labor policies.

Union workers marched to the Capitol for a rally, where they were joined briefly by a pair of prominent Democrats: House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton.

There was a time, in recent memory, that the labor movement wasn't all too fond of Madigan. Though he's a Democrat, he helped pass bills cutting government-worker pension benefits, and he's backed corporate tax breaks.

Illinois is poised to decriminalize people caught with small amounts of marijuana.  The Illinois House approved legislation Wednesday.

As it stands now, Rep. Kelly Cassidy says Illinois has a patchwork. Each city handles pot possession differently.

"That permit some people to get tickets for very low level possession, some people to get arrested," Cassidy said.

Cassidy, a Chicago Democrat, says her legislation will create a threshold "…under which arrest is not an option. Tickets would be the way to go."

FLICKR User Jim Bowen

An estimated eight thousand union members flooded streets in front of the Illinois Statehouse today to protest Governor Bruce Rauner's agenda.

Annette Edwards is a member of the Service Employees International Union. 

She riled the crowd saying she lost her job as a child care worker after the governor cut eligibility for the program.

"20110420-RD-LSC-0369" By Flickr User U.S. Department of Agriculture / (CC X 2.0)

Mixed messages came out of a meeting Tuesday between the Illinois governor and legislative leaders. It was their first meeting in months, even as Illinois is in the midst of an unprecedented budget standoff.

Senate President John Cullerton, a Democrat, left the meeting saying he got what he wanted out of it.

"The main thing I wanted to accomplish was to make sure that in the revenue side ... that the governor was committed to being in favor of some revenue increases, and he said he was," Cullerton said.

WUIS

  Illinois' leaders are divided over school funding, even as superintendents worry it will get caught in the political stalemate.

Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to increase how much Illinois sends schools overall, by $120 million.

Even then, some districts -- including the financially beleaguered Chicago Public Schools -- would see their state funding drop. Senate President John Cullerton nixed that as a viable option Monday.

Amanda Vinicky

  For only the second time this year, Gov. Bruce Rauner and the four legislative leaders are set to meet, Tuesday, in Springfield.  It comes as Illinois' historic budget stalemate yawns into May, with two weeks left in legislators' regular session schedule.

These "leaders' meetings" are private, but NPR Illinois Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky had the chance to speak with House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton.

 

 

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