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. 

WUIS

Billions of dollars in cuts are part of a possible budget for next year.  So are higher taxes.   

Illinois built up a deficit over the years; the current impasse has only exacerbated it.  A bipartisan group of legislators chosen to craft a solution has a potential path.

Members are cagey about sharing detail due to its political sensitivity.

But some have confirmed some of the details.  The plan suggests raising bringing Illinois' 3.75 percent income tax rate up to 4.85 percent. It also has Illinois adding a sales tax on some services that aren't taxed now.  

Lawmakers' latest bid to mitigate the damage of the budget impasse centers on helping social services.

Court orders have kept money flowing to certain social services, but many others have had to scale back or close after waiting more than ten months for the state to pay their bills. These autism, drug-treatment, and housing programs would get about $700 million under a measure advanced on a bipartisan basis by an Illinois House committee.

ilga.gov

Questions continue to swirl regarding irregular campaign expenses reported by Auditor General Frank Mautino from his time as a Democratic state representative.

Republican legislators formally requested in February that Mautino explain the spending.

State Representative Grant Wehrli of Naperville says three months later ... they're still waiting.

He and other Republicans held a press conference expressing their frustration. They also released a copy of a letter they just sent Mautino ... saying his delay is eroding the public's trust in his office.

http://www.csu.edu/

  Thanks to a law signed last week, Illinois' public universities and community colleges are finally getting state money for the first time since last summer. Now, more could be on the way.

The bipartisan deal is sending $600 million to higher education.

But it wasn't spread out evenly.

Most schools got 30% of last year's funding.

Chicago State University got 60%.

Senator Donne Trotter, a Chicago Democrat, says that's because CSU was on the precipice of a shutdown.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

On a 105 to 7 vote ... members of the Illinois House voted to give up the power of drawing their own districts.

The remap proposal would give that authority to a court-appointed panel.

Black lawmakers like Representative Carol Ammons of Urbana say they're concerned the new method would not protect minority voters.

But Democratic Representative Jack Franks says his plan provides that protection and will empower Illinois citizens.

AMMONS: "Who are these people that are going to be non-partisan to do, in essence, what the legislature really should do?"

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

With two months remaining in the current budget year ... Governor Bruce Rauner says Illinois has run out of cash.

He's pushing for a two-year spending plan.

"I'm recommending we do a budget that's for 2016 and 2017. Frankly, we're out of money for 2016. There's nothing that we can do really productive for 2016. We should get a grand bargain for both years, and do the right thing for the long term,” Rauner said.

Rauner -- a Republican -- has held out on a complete budget … as he presses for Democrats to adopt to an agenda THEY say will harm the middle class.

  After stumbling on previous attempts to put a constitutional amendment question before voters, the group Independent Maps is hopeful about their measure in 2016.  The citizens' initiative announced it has collected more than enough signatures and that it has revised phrasing that led the courts to toss a question two years ago.   Its backers want to strip legislators from having the authority to draw their own districts. Instead, that'd be the duty of a specially-selected panel.

LinkedIn

  The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will get a new leader in July.

When it opened in 2004, the presidential museum was touted as a world-class complex, and a tourist-luring gem for Springfield.

Flickr user Images Money / "Tax" (CC BY 2.0)

All Illinois residents -- no matter how rich, no matter how poor -- pay the same income tax rate. Now a plan is afoot to change that with a constitutional amendment, where the wealthy would pay more.

A pair of Democratic legislators are trying to likewise move Illinois from a flat to a graduated income tax.

Rep. Lou Lang of Skokie says those who are well off need to do more to help the state.

Under his four-tiered plan, anyone making more than a million dollars would pay 9.75 percent, which is more than double today's rate of 3.75 percent.

WUIS

Members of the Illinois House Friday voted 65 to 37 to set a floor for the number of state employees providing health care in state prisons.  

Representative Greg Harris -- a Chicago Democrat -- says Illinois can't afford to reduce what is already inadequate health care.

"There have been numerous lawsuits and some class action cases regarding both physical and behavioral health for the Dept. of Corrections," Harris said.

The state prison system is opposed.

Illinois contracts with a private company – Wexford -- to provide health care to prisoners.

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