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. 

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says her father’s job … as speaker of the Illinois House ... is a factor in whether she’d ever run for governor.

Madigan did not elaborate. But she stepped back from a possible 2014 bid, saying it would not be good for

Illinois to have two members of the same family in those positions.

Anyone seeking the governor’s office is asking to take on acute fiscal problems brought on by a political stalemate, piled on top of chronic underfunding and massive pension debt.

Illinois Democrats joined fellow party members in Philadelphia Monday for the Democratic National Convention. But state politics, not the national scene, was the focus of the delegation’s first official day of business.

Republicans had their turn last week in Cleveland; now it’s Democrats turn. Illinois’ delegates to the Democratic National Convention are in Philadelphia, where they’re set to nominate Hillary Clinton for President.

The conventional wisdom is: Ted Cruz’s speech at the Republican National Convention tore open fresh wounds of divided party.

Illinois National Republican Committeeman Richard Porter says the outrage at Cruz isn’t a sign of discord.

“That was unity man, that was 25,000 people booing him all at once," he said.

The comment prompted Jim Fisher, a farmer from near Bloomington, to walk out of the Illinois delegation’s morning meeting.

"No, no – that’s what, that’s what. No, no, I don’t agree with that," he said.

 A high-school senior from Downers Grove already has a notable life experience to brag about when he starts applying to college: the 17-year-old is part of Illinois’ delegation to the Republican National Convention. Three generations of his family are in Cleveland for the RNC.

Republican officials who’ve been holding out on endorsing Donald Trump are moving to his corner … albeit reluctantly.

Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Channahon is walking a tight political line. Here’s what he said Tuesday when asked directly about his stance on Trump:

Donald Trump is now the Republican nominee for President, after delegates last night in Cleveland awarded him their votes. For some Illinois Republicans, it’s a time for vindication and celebration. But others remain wary.

Monday night's headline speech at the Republican National Convention by Donald Trump’s wife was supposed to exhibit the presumptive Republican nominee’s compassionate, fatherly side. Instead, it’s been a distraction, including for the Illinois delegation.

The political strategist who helped Trump take Illinois’ primary stopped by the morning state delegation breakfast, but reporters didn’t want to talk to him how Trump could win the general election.

A key player in the attempt to supplant Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for president says the fight is over for good.

Leading up to the Republican National Convention, Pat Brady was actively working to change the party’s rules, so that someone other than Trump could grab the nomination. Just a few years ago, he was chair of the Illinois GOP; he says Trump isn't a Republican when it comes to the party’s core issues, like free trade, national defense and economics.

Illinois Republican leaders are trying to show a united front, and to build a bridge between two islands: that of party mainstays and Donald Trump-invigorated newcomers.

 An Illinois delegation that’s a mix of political newcomers, elected officials, lobbyists and the like have arrived in Cleveland, as the Republican National Convention gets underway.

An Illinois State Fair tradition steeped in dairy will continue.

A "must" of any visit to the state fair is the Butter Cow: a large -- though not life-sized -- sculpture of a cow, made entirely of butter. Illinois has had one for some 90 years. But the woman who's been doing it recently, is "mooving" on, to retirement.

State fair organizers and the Midwest Dairy Association held a search for a replacement.

Illinois' General Assembly has two new members. And both are in their twenties.

Omar Aquino won a Democratic primary, but didn't have to wait to win the general election to become a state senator. He was sworn in earlier this month to replace Senator William Delgado, who retired. Aquino is a 29-year-old Latino from Chicago.

@AmandaVinicky / Twitter

The death of black men at the hands of police last week in Louisiana and Minnesota followed by a sniper attack on law enforcement in Dallas have the nation reeling. Illinois had its own incident that garnered national attention, and raised questions about racial relations in November, when Chicago Police released a video that shows a white officer fatally shooting black teen Laquan McDonald. 

Hillary Clinton invoked Abraham Lincoln today during a speech at the Old State Capitol in Springfield.

That’s where Lincoln gave his famous “House Divided” address back in 1858.

Clinton – Democrats’ presumptive nominee for president – called Republicans’ choice of Donald Trump alarming. She says it’s a threat to democracy that Lincoln’s former party is becoming the party of Trump.

The government temporarily sends cash assistance to people who've been laid off and are looking for a job. 

But starting next week ... they won't receive unemployment insurance unless they've provided the state with a resume. Director of the Illinois Department of Employment Security -- Jeff Mays -- says it will help to link employers with skilled workers.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL, said recent racial killings underscore the need for conversations about race relations and law enforcement, but there are also systemic issues that need more specifically addressed.

Illinois' largest public employees union is taking preliminary steps in preparation for a possible strike.
AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall says it's responsible to be sure the union's members are informed, in the event it comes to taking a strike vote.

 

Just because Illinois now has a budget doesn’t mean all of the entities covered by it will get their money right away.

Some payouts will come out of special funds, that have to accumulate a balance first.

Other bills may go to the bottom of a pile of overdue vouchers totaling roughly 8 billion dollars.

For the past several months, legislators’ paychecks have been sitting in that stack.

Senator Kim Lightford – a Maywood Democrat – says it’s wrong, and a political game. She says now that there’s a budget, she hopes the paychecks will come.

Moody’s Investor Service is out with a warning, that the just-passed stopgap spending plan is not enough for Illinois’ public universities.  Just yesterday lawmakers were extolling the measure’s support for higher education. 

It's not often the worlds of state government and hair-care converge - but one Illinois reporter has changed that.

Illinois' unprecedented budget impasse has ended … for now, and just in the nick of time. The governor signed, and legislators passed, a partial budget Thursday, on the final day of fiscal year 2016. But it's only a temporary salve.

Flickr Creative Commons/Daniel X. O'Neil

On the final day of the fiscal year, Illinois legislators passed a temporary budget. The package easily passed first the House, then the Senate today; it now goes to the governor who is expected to sign it.  The plan will send money to social service organizations that have waited since last July for payment.  

Illinois lawmakers are on the verge of passing a state budget, though only a partial one. Thursday is the final day of the 2016 fiscal year.

The plan is for lawmakers to vote on an agreement the governor and the General Assembly's leaders apparently worked out in hours of private meetings yesterday. 

There's intense pressure on Illinois lawmakers to pass a budget before Friday, when a new fiscal year begins. Gov. Bruce Rauner spent hours meeting with legislative leaders Wednesday morning, and negotiations are expected to continue on and off throughout the day. 

Illinois lawmakers left Springfield a month ago fractured, indignant and without a budget. They'll return Wednesday for another try at a compromise. With just days left before the new fiscal year starts July 1, there are signs there's reason to be optimistic. 

Flickr Creative Commons/Matt Turner

Illinois' governor has invited the legislative leaders to a meeting early this evening at the capitol. It'll be an opportunity for them to hash out budget options ahead of the legislature's return to Springfield tomorrow. But the chances for a bipartisan agreement remain grim as ever.

Illinois lawmakers are expected to vote on a short-term budget on Wednesday, when they'll be back in Springfield for the first time in a month. There's no budget plan in place for the new fiscal year that starts Friday, which could create even more disarray after a year-long stalemate.

Though political fighting at the statehouse and the lack of a complete budget meant it was haphazard, municipalities got much of their state funding this year. But Illinois is set to begin a new fiscal year Friday with no spending plan in place. That has local officials worried.

Mahomet Village President Sean Widener says it's a matter of stability.

Illinois lawmakers are expected to vote on a short-term budget on Wednesday, when they'll be back in Springfield for the first time in a month.  There's no budget plan in place for the new fiscal year that starts Friday, something which could create even more disarray after a year-long stalemate.   Gov. Bruce Rauner made it sound like a partial deal could be imminent.

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