The Players

Illinois Department of Revenue

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he isn't a billionaire, but he's not far off. Me? I'm Amanda Vinicky, statehouse bureau chief for Illinois Public Radio, and let's just say I've got a better chance of walking on the moon than ever making a billion bucks.

But both Rauner and I -- as does everyone else who lives in Illinois, no matter how rich or poor -- pay the same state income tax rate. The constitution requires a flat tax.

Some Illinois Democrats are moving to change that. 

ICPR website

The state of Illinois may be running a deficit, but many of its leaders' campaign accounts are flush.

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform tracks their spending, and has ideas on how to improve the system.

For this episode of The Players, your look into who's who in Illinois government and politics and waht they're up to, Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky talked about campaign finance and spending on the 2016 primary with ICPR's Director, Sarah Brune.

Barack Obama, Michael Madigan and John Cullerton
Pool photo by Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune

Illinois' leaders are still stuck in a budgetary quagmire, weeks after President Barack Obama came to Springfield to call for less polarization in politics.

For this episode of The Players: Your look into who's who in Illinois politics and what they're up to (or more precisely this time around -- your look into who's who in national politics and what they were up to when they visited Illinois).

Illinois State Labor Relations Board logo
Illinois State Labor Relations Board

The future of some 36,000 state government employees lies -- in part, anyway -- with the Illinois Labor Relations Board.

The union that represents most state workers -- AFSCME -- and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration had been at the bargaining table for a about a year when, on Jan. 15, Rauner announced he'd had enough.

He says there's no point to further talks. They're at an impasse. But neither side can make that choice unilaterally. So Rauner's filed a charge with the labor board, asking it to decide.

Hannah Meisel

Amanda Vinicky hosts The Players, your look into who's who in Illinois politics and what they are up to. This week, she talks with a candidate for the U.S. Senate. 

Democrats looking to pick up seats in the U.S. Senate have their hopes pinned on Illinois.

Illinois' junior Senator, Republican Mark Kirk, is seen a vulnerable; he's got a primary challenge of his own, but he's way out in front on the cash race, and has the party's backing.

Democrats? They're more split.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois is in uncharted territory. It'll soon hit its sixth month without a budget. 

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrats who dominate the legislature continue to spar about what Illinois' future should look like. Rauner wants to rein in unions; Democrats say that's akin to bolstering business tycoons at the expense of the middle class.

How long can it go on?

Washington University in St. Louis

There are actions governors can take about their concerns over Syrian refugees, but keeping them out of their states — even temporarily — is not one.  So says the emeritus professor whose textbook on immigration is used by about 185 law schools in the country.

Tennessee Department of Human Services

Just how much assistance the state should give low-income parents to help them pay for daycare has been a hot issue throughout the budget debate. Now, a state lawmaker's take on it has gone viral; with 4.2 million YouTube views and counting. I'm Amanda Vinicky with The Players - your look into who's who in Illinois Politics and what they're up to.

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. 

youtube.com

Over the last several days, talk has circulated that the uber-rich Illinois GOP Governor Bruce Rauner will be using his resources to take his ongoing message of "shaking up Springfield" to the airwaves. Not through interviews with media, but by buying ad time and creating commercials to promote his ideas for crafting a budget. 

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.

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. 

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.