Leadership Blog

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois now has a chief operating officer: Linda Lingle. Gov. Bruce Rauner talks a lot about the "superstars" he's hired to help him run the state, and she's considered one of them. She's come to Illinois from Hawaii, where she was governor for eight years.

woman at Capitol with "People Not Politics" sign
Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Illinois is in is seventh week without a state budget. How did it get to this point, and why? 

For this segments of The Players -- all about who's who in Illinois politics and what they're up to -- Amanda Vinicky rehashes with Rachel Otwell. 

Capitol in fog
Amanda Vinicky / NPR Illinois

State employees have begun receiving pink slips, as a budget impasse looms -- a total of 171 workers will lose their jobs. Workers have gotten notice that they'll be out of work by the end of September.

Amanda Vinicky

Republican legislators can expect the money they've received from Gov. Bruce Rauner to keep flowing, if the governor holds true to his word.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan heatshot
flickr.com/jrockefelleriv

A Cook County judge has ruled Illinois may not continue to pay
state workers in full during an ongoing budget impasse.
 
 Judge Diane Joan Larsen ruled Tuesday that Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger
may pay only some workers who are covered under a federal law. Those workers
would receive federal minimum wage plus overtime.
 
 But attorneys for Munger say it would take the state as long as a year to
determine which employees would be paid under federal law and how much.

 Democrats are accusing Governor Bruce Rauner of "dodging" questions about how much his top staff are making. Just how much Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration is costing taxpayers was supposed to be the subject of a hearing, called by House Revenue Chairman John Bradley.

But when he asked repeatedly "is there anyone from the governor's office here to testify?" there was silence.

No one from the governor's office showed. That's a breach of legislative decorum that's virtually unheard of.

The finished product uses shades of green, blue, rose and peach that match the marble throughout the Capitol.
Bethany Carson / WUIS/Illinois Issues

The Illinois General Assembly doesn't typically meet during the summer. But legislators are back for another one-day session today.

Amanda Vinicky

The end of the month, and therefore the end of Illinois' fiscal year, gets closer every day. With no budget deal in place, Illinois' General Assembly will return tomorrow.

The Democrats who control the legislature have already approved a spending plan, but that's on hold. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner says he won't go along with the out-of-balance budget; he'll only discuss the tax hikes required to help fund it if his pro-business agenda is passed.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Federal records show that Illinois television stations will begin to air ads tomorrow, paid for by Governor Bruce Rauner's political action committee.

When the depths of the dispute between Republican Gov. Rauner and the General Assembly's Democratic leaders really became public at the end of last month, Senate President John Cullerton said the governor had warned a media blitz was on the way.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Your favorite TV show might be interrupted with a pointed message purchased by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, though  the governor is refusing to say whether he's going to buy TV time to promote his agenda as he battles with the legislature's Democratic leaders.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he and Democratic legislators have until midnight Sunday to reach a deal on both the state budget and his pro-business agenda. That's when the General Assembly is scheduled to leave town for the summer.

Amanda Vinicky / WUIS / Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner has stayed out of the public eye for the past couple of days. But he's making his feelings on the budget known in an op-ed that came out late Wednesday night.

Amanda Vinicky

Look at the photo on this post; it's the board of the Illinois House after representatives voted on House Speaker Michael Madigan's version of Gov. Bruce Rauner's local right-to-work zones. 

WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois Democrats have knocked one of the new Republican governor's top priorities down to an easy defeat. The Illinois House yesterday voted against Bruce Rauner's notion of local right-to-work zones. The issue is highly contentious on its own. But a broader division was also at play. Before we get to the right-to-work debate, it's important to rewind some.

Zach Bernard

New ways to tackle Illinois' underfunded pension systems could be emerging, as the Republican governor appears to be backing away from his plan.

There's good reason many lawmakers are feeling flummoxed. Illinois' budget is already sagging. And with last week's state Supreme Court decision tossing a major pension law, the deficit is larger still.

The court decision was unequivocal - it's not constitutional to cut state employees' retirement benefits.

Amanda Vinicky

Gov. Bruce Rauner's right-to-work proposal will get a hearing today in the Illinois House. Unions are putting pressure on lawmakers to vote against the proposal.

Though the Illinois House is set to vote on the Republican governor's idea of local right-to-work zones, it's not because Rauner's pushing for a vote.

Gov. Rauner unveiled the concept in late January, during an appearance in Decatur, and has talked about it a lot since. But no actual legislation's been introduced. There are only weeks left in the legislative session.

John Cullerton
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Even though John Cullerton went along with the pension law that on Friday was found by the state's high court to be unconstitutional, the Illinois Senate President had always favored another approach. Now he's saying (well, not exactly in these exact words ... ) "I told you so." In this episode of The Players -- a podcast about who's who in Illinois politics and what they're up to -- Amanda Vinicky spoke with the Senate's top Democrat about his plans to try again.

President-elect Barack Obama
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner this afternoon signed a law to help bring President Barack Obama's presidential library to Illinois. The General Assembly rushed to pass the measure just over a week ago.

At a private bill-signing in his office at the capitol, Rauner said he looks forward to having the President's library "come here, to the great state of Illinois."

"It'll be a wonderful institution for the people of our great state and to help drive economic development and tourism, and visitors from all over the United States," he said.

LMNA Architecture Renderings / Lucas Museum of Narrative Art press kit

The force of the Illinois legislature is behind bringing George Lucas's museum and Barack Obama's presidential library to Chicago.

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Public school teachers and their unions may be next, as Gov. Bruce Rauner seeks to loosen requirements on collective bargaining dues.

The vast majority of state employees are unionized. But even those who choose not to join still have to pay what are known as "fair share" dues. That's basically a fee to cover the work unions do to benefit all workers, members and non-members alike. Things like wage hikes, and health care coverage that unions secure in negotiations. But Gov. Rauner alleges the money's also used for political advocacy.

Amanda Vinicky interviewing Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Today marks Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's 100th day in office. He sat down in the Capitol for a one-on-one interview with WUIS Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky.

House floor
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Illinois' budget, and Gov. Bruce Rauner's influence on it, will be examined by a special legislative committee. The powerful House Speaker announced its creation today.

It's either a sign of a contentious budget battle, or an early attempt at reaching a compromise.

capitol
Hannah Meisel/WUIS

Illinois legislators will return to Springfield this week after a two-week break. There's some suggestion it will have been their last hiatus for a while.

Legislators are set to spend much of the next seven weeks in session.

There's a lot to do: Gov. Bruce Rauner is pushing a massive agenda. He wants to overhaul the workers' compensation system, and to give municipalities the ability to rein in labor unions. Plus, there's dealing with a $6 billion deficit.

ilga.gov

Illinois' powerful House speaker is staking an early claim in what's sure to be a contentious budget battle.

Billions of dollars in cuts proposed by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner already have spurred rallies at the capitol, and groups foretell of grave consequences.

House Speaker Michael Madigan says he acknowledges Illinois is in a difficult budget situation, but there's one area in particular he wants to spend more on: state crime labs.

Amanda Vinicky

He was 23. 

I was 23. 

He was in the early stages of a quick run up the political ladder, and after a hard-fought election becoming a full-fledged member of the Illinois House.

I was an intern for WUIS and Illinois Public Radio, days (literally) into my first attempt at covering state government and politics. 

Doing a profile of the youngest-ever legislator elected to the General Assembly on his inauguration day, on Jan. 12, 2005 seemed a fitting assignment.  

wuis

Unions are taking Gov. Bruce Rauner to court over his attempt to get rid of so-called "fair-share" dues.

Illinois law requires workers who are not members of unions to nonetheless pay a fee, for the benefits unions secure on their behalf.

Rauner had issued an executive order eliminating that requirement.

But labor leaders says that's a violation of the separation of powers; in other words, a governor can't unilaterally toss out a state law.

Gov. Pat Quinn has called for the closing of Tamms Correctional Center.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Some of the main architects of the Illinois law that seeks to save the state money by reducing workers' pensions have begun collecting pensions of their own.

On March 11, the Illinois Supreme Court will hear arguments for and against the pension overhaul signed into law late in 2013 by then-Gov. Pat Quinn. If it succeeds, Quinn, like other retired state employees, will see his the size of his future retirement benefits shrink, as the law does away with compounded cost-of-living increases.

Amanda Vinicky

Just over 50 top state officials came together this afternoon for their first cabinet meeting with Illinois' new governor, Bruce Rauner. Journalists were invited to hear the Republican's opening remarks.

Rauner's Cabinet gathered in one of the capitol's largest, and nicest, committee rooms; members milled about, making small talk and introductions.

Some were recently appointed by the governor and are new to Illinois government; others are holdovers from former Gov. Pat Quinn's administration.

Pensions' big day before the Illinois Supreme Court has been set for next month, on March 11. 

I was honored to be on a panel recently (before Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget address, so no talk about his latest proposal), along with the Civic Federation's Laurence Msall, Sen. Daniel Biss D-Evanston and Sen. Matt Murphy R-Palatine, to discuss one of the state's most controversial, pressing and expensive issues.  

Amanda Vinicky

With all of Illinois' deep, multi-faceted and important problems, it may seem trite to focus on something like Gov. Bruce Rauner's speech patterns. And yet, reactions to the Republican’s first State of the State address earlier this month focused less on the meat of his manifesto, and more on what many saw as a distraction: Rauner’s delivery. It was talked about enough that I thought it worth looking into, and getting an dialect expert to weigh in on whether it's genuine (as Rauner says is the case), or contrived.

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