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

  The end of the month -- and a major deadline for getting a state budget passed -- is getting closer.

Gov. Bruce Rauner is standing firm. He says he'll agree to raising taxes, if Democrats agree with his pro-business, union-weakening agenda.

Lawmakers continue to negotiate those items in private.

Representative Dan Brady, a Republican from Bloomington, is part of the talks.

He says the issues are "tender."

Amanda Vinicky/Illinois Public Radio

  Last week, thousands of union members rallied in Springfield,  asking lawmakers to override a gubernatorial veto.  The bill would change how the state negotiates with labor.

Democratic Representative Emanuel Chris Welch now says he  plans to call the measure for a vote.

He says state employees made their voices heard.

"Both in the districts and down here. I think the rally in Springfield last week was very impressive. And people are hearing that. So we're going to put it on the board and see if the votes are there," he said.

Exelon

Nuclear energy workers were in Springfield Tuesday in a last-ditch effort to save two of Exelon's Illinois plants.

The energy behemoth says that, unless legislators pass a law by the end of this month, it will shut down the plants in Clinton and the Quad Cities.

Jeff Bartz, who's from Colona, says that would lead to a loss of thousands of jobs and wipe out a big part of the regional tax base. Bartz says nuclear power has advantages.

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.

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