Amanda Vinicky

Former Statehouse Bureau Chief

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.

Amanda Vinicky covered Illinois politics and government for NPR Illinois and  the Illinois public radio network from 2006-2016.  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 2008, 2012 and 2016.  

She interned with WUIS in graduate school; she graduated from the University of Illinois Springfield's Public Affairs Reporting program in 2005.  She also holds degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. 

Ways to Connect

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Democratic leaders met for the the first time in months. Judging from their diverging responses, you might wonder if they were actually in the same room. Meanwhile AFSCME members rallied after getting bad news from the state labor board.

AFSCME picket
Amanda Vinicky / NPR Illinois

Now that a state board says there's no point to Gov. Bruce Rauner resuming negotiations with AFSCME, his administration is beginning to impose new terms on members of state government's biggest labor union. AFSCME, however, wants Rauner to return to the bargaining table. State employees across Illinois rallied for their cause Thursday.

Hundreds of workers carrying signs with slogans like "don't dictate, negotiate" marched in front of their Springfield offices.

"Two, four, six, eight! Rauner should negotiate!" they shouted.

Illinois State Capitol
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The state's top political leaders got together in Springfield Wednesday for the second time in as many days. A prime topic of conversation in the closed-door meeting: a new report on just how dire Illinois' budget situation has gotten.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and the legislature's top leaders spent part of Wednesday morning talking about the budget mess they helped create.

The backlog of bills that the state owes but can't afford to pay now exceeds $10 billion.

Trump and Rauner
Trump by Michael Vadon / Flickr, Rauner by Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

He's a Republican. But Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner avoided talking about Donald Trump throughout the presidential campaign, but he opened up some Wednesday.

Rauner still didn't actually say Trump's name; he left it at "President-Elect" and "new administration." But Rauner did volunteer that he and Trump spoke by phone last Friday.

The governor and Illinois' top leaders are set to meet Tuesday morning, after Republicans on Monday accused Democrats of a dereliction of duty.

It's been one year, four months and 15 days since the state of Illinois had a regular budget.

If you're wondering why Illinois' top politicians haven't been able to do something as important as passing a budget, here's a clue: They have a hard time even agreeing on when to meet.

Gov. Bruce Rauner's office made a big deal of wanting a meeting Monday with the legislative leaders.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois lawmakers will meet in Springfield this week for the first time since the election, but things are already off to a rough start.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and his allies made a big public push last week about his wanting to meet with the General Assembly's for top leaders ... including Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Mind you, Rauner and his allies spent months making a much bigger public push -- in hundreds of campaign ads -- to paint Madigan as a greedy, corrupt insider.

Sunday evening, Madigan's spokesman issued a short statement.

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Republicans made gains in the Illinois House and Senate, but Democrats cleaned up in statewide races. Meanwhile, Illinois government is still without a balanced budget — does the election change anything?

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois legislators will only get a brief post-election respite from politics; a week from Wednesday they’ll be back in Springfield to begin the veto session.The current makeup of the General Assembly will remain in place for that, but come the new year -- when the Capitol welcomes a new set of lawmakers elected Tuesday night -- the balance of power will shift, slightly.

Election Day is like the Super Bowl of politics.

Amanda Vinicky

Election day is finally here, and the polls are open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. Remember, even if you're not registered to vote, you can still do that Tuesday. Here's a rundown of what's on the ballot.

Illinois primary voters' top picks for president on both sides of the aisle -- Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump -- made it to the top of the ballot.

Whoever wins the state will score a sizable 20 Electoral College votes on the quest to 270.

I Voted sticker roll
Wikimedia

Illinois makes it easier than other states to register to vote, but do residents take advantage of the state's laws?

Illinois residents who don't have much of an excuse for not casting a ballot.

Wallet Hub's Jill Gonzalez looked at whether states offer early voting, no-excuse absentee voting, online voter registration and election-day registration.

"Illinois is 4 for 4 for each of those voter accessibility policies," Gonzalez said. That puts Illinois at the top of states when it comes to voter accessibility.

Amanda Vinicky
Network Knowledge

Host Amanda Vinicky and guests Kent Redfield (UIS) and Charlie Wheeler (UIS) discuss what you need to know before you vote.

CapitolView is a production of WSEC-TV/PBS Springfield, Network Knowledge.

Amanda Vinicky

There wasn't supposed to be an election for a statewide constitutional officer this year, but Democrats essentially foisted one, following the sudden death of Republican Judy Baar Topinka. That's led to an expensive, competitive race for comptroller this year --- a race that could show who's winning the war of public opinion in Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan's battle for Illinois' future.

Who knows what would have happened had Democrats held onto the governor's office in 2014?

When the Cubs celebrated with a parade Friday in Chicago, it was on World Champion Chicago Cubs Day in Illinois. Gov. Bruce Rauner issued a proclamation making the designation official.

The Cubs winning the World Series is bigger than baseball" Rauner said in a statement. "This is a celebration for past and present fans along with all the Cubs' legends who never gave up hope.”

The team's victory also means that some of Illinois' top politicians are due for some brews.

An election season of unprecedented spending on negative advertising is coming to an end. How does it rank? And what does it mean for the future?

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U.S. Senator Mark Kirk says he apologized, and that apology was accepted, so it's time to move on from a controversial comment he made at last week's debate minimizing his opponent's family legacy of military service. The Republican gave an interview to public radio on Wednesday; click below to listen to the bulk of it.

Jenna Dooley/Ill Public Radio

Illinois legislators are being graded on whether they've helped or hurt people with disabilities. The scorecard is believed to be the first of its kind, and comes from an organization led by concerned parents.

It would seem that you'd be hard-pressed to find much that Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan have in common.

But on this issue, they both did pretty poorly, with a score of 50-percent.

Illinois has taken steps to prevent 260,000 residents from losing government food assistance. That gives the state a year to prepare these individuals for the job market.

Amanda Vinicky
Network Knowledge

Host Amanda Vinicky and guests Andy Maloney (Chicago Daily Law Bulletin) and Dave Dahl (WTAX) discuss Sen. Mark Kirk and Tammy Duckworth's debate as well as the comptroller debate and other election news.

CapitolView is a production of WSEC-TV/PBS Springfield, Network Knowledge.

pile of $20 bills
D Borman / flickr

Illinois' already strained bank account will be stretched by another $4.6 billion because of action taken by the state government's largest pension fund.

Screencap of debate stream

Illinois Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk has apologized for mocking his challenger Thursday night during a Springfield debate, and Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth accepted.

A relatively small crowd was there to hear it live, but thanks to social media, Kirk's gaffe was quickly heard (and criticized) round the nation.

In talking about the cost of war, Duckworth brought up that her family's military service goes back to the American Revolution.

Sen. Mark Kirk and U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth participated in their first televised presidential debate this week. Kirk made a comment about his opponent's ethnic heritage for which he later felt compelled to apologize. We'll ask Charlie Wheeler why voters should care about the special election for Illinois comptroller. And Sen. Dick Durbin might mean it when he says he isn't interested in taking on Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2018.

Kirk and Duckworth arriving at the Illinois State Fair
Amanda Vinicky (Kirk); Brian Mackey (Duckworth) / NPR Illinois

Illinois voters aren't getting many chances to see their candidates for U.S. Senate face off. Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth and the incumbent -- Republican Mark Kirk -- met Thursday in Springfield. It was the first of only two televised debates, and their only downstate match-up.

Illinois Supreme Court Building
Illinois Supreme Court

The Illinois Supreme Court is committing to a redesign of pretrial justice procedures, the system in place to deal with individuals from the time they're arrested, until their case is resolved.

The state is working with the national Pretrial Justice Institute, which is trying to get 20 states on board. Its CEO, Cherise Fanno Burdeen, says Illinois is the second.

Teena Francois-Blue
Screenshot used with permission of the subject. / Facebook Live

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Wednesday, Gov. Bruce Rauner did his part with a live video session on Facebook from the Simmons Cancer Institute in Springfield.

Rauner, a Republican, touted a new law he signed this summer that requires insurance companies and Medicaid to cover 3-D mammograms. He congratulated a nurse practitoner, who stood alongside him to answer commenters' questions, for celebrating her one-year anniversary of being cancer free.

Amanda Vinicky

With Illinois finances stretched thin, the role of Illinois Comptroller has taken on an elevated importance. There haven't been many chances for voters to compare the candidates vying for the job face-to-face, but the top candidates squared off Tuesday night in an interview on Chicago's WTTW-TV.

The comptroller is in charge of cutting the state's checks.

That's more complicated than it may sound. After all, Illinois doesn't have enough money to actually PAY all of its bills.

Illinois has created a network of emergency foster care homes.

Department of Children and Family Services Director George Sheldon says these homes are places youth in the state's care can be sent in lieu of emergency shelters.

Sheldon told a legislative panel Tuesday that there's currently capacity for 36 kids. His goal is to have room for 50.

"Frankly, this state had a series of emergency foster homes a decade or so ago," he said. "I don't know why that was abandoned. I think it's a much more appropriate facility."

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Politicians will not be ON the field as the Chicago Cubs compete in the World Series for the first time since 1945. But some have found another way to get in on the game.

The Chicago Cubs versus the Cleveland Indians is pitting Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner against Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Rauner stood outside Wrigley Field earlier this week (alongside Cubs owner Tom Ricketts) to say he'll send Kasich Chicago-style, deep dish pizza and a Chicago microbrew if Cleveland is victorious.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois makes it tough for new party and independent candidates to run for office, especially when compared with the petition rules for Democratic and Republican candidates, but even a leading established party politician says the requirements are too tough.

After receiving inquiries the Illinois State Board of Elections has issued an alert to assure voters of the integrity of the upcoming election.

It comes as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump continues to claim that the election is "rigged." In Wednesday night's debate, Trump was cagey about whether he'll accept the outcome on November 8.

The board's assistant director Jim Tenuto says tampering with electronic voting machines or coordinating a statewide effort to cheat would be difficult, given that elections are locally-managed.

Donald Trump's talk of "rigged" elections prompts Illinois and Chicago officials to say widespread voter fraud is a thing of the past. Meanwhile, a Chicago Democratic operative feels the burn of a conservative undercover activist. And could there be unintended consequences for state parks if Illinois voters approve the so-called transportation lockbox?

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