Amanda Vinicky


Read Amanda's "Leadership" 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

The governor and Democratic legislators yesterday came to a budget agreement, but only a minor one. A broader stalemate continues.

Anything to do with state spending this year has pretty much been split down party lines. Democrats passed a spending plan, Republican Gov. Bruce Raunervetoed almost all of it.

That's what has Illinois into its second month without a budget.

Then there was a thaw yesterday. Senators from both parties voted to spend $5 billion of federal money -- the state just serves as a pass through.


Illinois may not be done with the 2013 law reducing state employees’ pensions after all. Attorney General Lisa Madigan appears to be readying an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Many thought the question of whether Illinois could save money by reducing state workers’ and retirees’ pensions was resolved in May, when the state’s Supreme Court justices unanimously ruled the answer is “no.”

state of Illinois

The search for a new state Auditor General has begun in earnest. 

The Auditor General serves as Illinois governments' top internal investigator. It's a job that Bill Holland has held for more than two decades.

But last month, he announced he's stepping down.

A bipartisan legislative commission says it's accepting applications for his replacement. At his retirement announcement, Holland gave his view of the desired skills set:

Michael Madigan / Rod Blagojevich

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is feuding over the state budget with Gov. Bruce Rauner now. But eight years ago, the summer stalemate was with the now-imprisoned, then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

An appeals court tossed some of Blagojevich's corruption convictions yesterday. Madigan says he hasn't read the whole opinion; just the final paragraph.

"It seems to say that Mr. Blagojevich will remain as a guest of the United States government, rather than coming back to Illinois," Madigan said.

Brian Mackey / Illinois Public Radio

Accusations continue to swirl at the statehouse over who is at fault for the budget impasse. Gov. Bruce Rauner says House Speaker Madigan is the problem. 

Rauner, a Republican, accuses Madigan of wanting a government shutdown.

"I think the Speaker wants pressure, wants an impact now, before he'll do the right thing,” Rauner said. “He knows what should happen. Many members of his caucus know we should compromise and work this out. But they want an impact, they want people hit by these lack of a budget before they'll take action."

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

Illinois' $36 billion budget remains in limbo. Meanwhile, the state's top political leaders have been focusing on a much smaller number -- roughly $250,000 in spending.

That's 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 excessive salaries.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has consistently used his bully pulpit to try to pin Illinois' problems on the Democratic Speaker of the Illinois House. 

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

In March, just before legislators were scheduled to take a climactic vote on right-to-work legislation, Gov. Bruce Rauner dipped into his campaign fund.  He doled out some $400,000 to Republican lawmakers.

The timing and size of the contributions raised eyebrows. After all, Rauner frequently accuses his Democratic rival, House Speaker Michael Madigan, of using campaign cash to keep legislators loyal. 

Rauner repeated that accusation during an interview with Bloomington's WJBC radio Monday morning. 

flickr user / Rosana Prada "two-color corn" / CC BY 2.0

Illinois now has an official state vegetable --- corn.

Governor Bruce Rauner signed it into law Thursday without fanfare.

However, he's scheduled to attend an annual sweet corn festival Thursday evening in Chatham, a suburb of Springfield.

Local elementary school students had promoted making sweet corn the state vegetable as a class project.

The measure's sponsor, Senator Sam McCann, a Republican from Carlinville, admitted during debate that some voters found the proposal a waste of time.

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Negotiations on a full year's budget appear to remain far apart, but it's up to Governor Bruce Rauner whether Illinois will make do with a downsized version for July. 

Democrats passed what they say is a one-month, bare-bones budget over Republicans' objections.

Including Gov. Rauner's, who had this to say about it last week:

"This is just getting to their four billion dollar whole one month at a time ... I don't support that bill. I do not, I will not sign, I don't support that bill."

Brian Mackey / Illinois Public Radio

Rather than go on without any budget at all, the state Senate is poised to pass a one-month version.

Democrats already did that once, but they have to do it again because the measure now also covers state employee pay.

Democrats could also try to override the governor's veto of a full year's spending plan.

But Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno says she wonders if enough legislators will show up.