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. 

Even if Illinois lawmakers reach a compromise soon, it's too late to help improve the state's credit rating, it's already the lowest rated state in the nation.

Illinois could see its already worst-in-the-nation credit rating sink further -- all the way down to "junk" status. Moody's Vice President Ted Hampton says investors have asked the ratings agency if that's even possible.

aka Kath / Flickr/Creative Commons

An initial phase of repairs to the run-down governor's mansion in Springfield is just about complete.

Architect Jeff Evans, who's coordinating the project as a volunteer says it was in bad shape.

"The roof has been replaced. We've got about a week's worth of work to finish up odds and ends. The leaks have stopped. There's no more water infiltration. The next thing will be just to complete the rest of the rehabilitation," Evans said.

That later rehab will include fixing stairs, making an elevator usable, and applying fresh coats of paint.

Hundreds of candidates, or their supporters, stood in line outside the state board of elections office in Springfield Monday morning to turn in petitions. 

Anyone there before 8 AM could have their name listed first should they make it onto the primary ballot. 

Theresa Mah was one of them. She's running for state representative in the second district, in Chicago. Mah says when she knocked on voters' doors to get their signatures most people were supportive. 

Many expressed concern about Illinois' budget:

The race for Illinois comptroller has narrowed: There will no longer be a Democratic primary. State Sen.Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, has confirmed he will not run.

You could say the Democratic primary race for comptroller is over before it ever began; only today can candidates begin filing paperwork to run.

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?

A task force created by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is trying to figure out how to reduce the number of local governments in the state. That group Thursday voted to recommend restrictions on organized labor. Members listening in via conference call heard an unexpected interlude.

Another set of unions have reached contract deals with Governor Bruce Rauner.  A press release from Rauner's office proclaims he's agreed to terms on new collective bargaining agreements with electrical workers, boilermakers, bricklayers and painters.  In all, 17 collective bargaining agreements have been ratified with Rauner at the helm. 

Parker Knight / Flickr/Creative Commons

Thousands of families who lost access to state-subsidized child care this summer are once again eligible.

Governor Bruce Rauner in July drastically rolled back the program that helps low-income working parents afford daycare.

Legislators were set to reverse the cuts last week , but instead Rauner agreed to a deal.

Action Tuesday by a bipartisan panel puts that plan into action.Senator Toi Hutchinson, a Democrat from Chicago Heights, helped to negotiate with the governor.

The Illinois Supreme Court is taking on another pension case six months after justices unanimously tossed out the state's landmark pension law.  Today they heard arguments as to whether a law affecting thousands of City of Chicago employees is constitutional or not.

There's no budget deal on the immediate horizon in Illinois. However, two frameworks have just been released. The drafters hope they'll stimulate movement.

State Senator Karen McConnaughay, a Republican from St. Charles, says frustration with the gridlock got her talking months ago with a handful of other rank-and-file legislators ... from both sides of the aisle, and from both chambers of the General Assembly.


The talks weren't sanctioned by party leaders. She says what they came up with wasn't a package; rather, more like a menu of options.

Governor Bruce Rauner has named a longtime Republican state representative -- Raymond Poe of Springfield -- to head the state's agriculture department. 

Governor Bruce Rauner appoints a longtime Republican state representative, Raymond Poe, of Springfield, to head the state's agriculture department.  Rauner promised early on that he'd appoint a farmer to head the department of agriculture; here he is last December, at the Illinois Farm Bureau's annual meeting.

Governor Bruce Rauner is out with his plans for his meeting with the legislature's leaders next week on Wednesday. Rauner's office sent his agenda this evening and disclosed that he intends to hold it in his Springfield office.  

A month and a half after the Illinois State Museum shut its doors to visitors, lawmakers have passed a measure that could lead to its reopening.  

Five months into operating without a state budget, Illinois Democrats and Republicans came together Tuesday to pass a budget bill. But it was a relatively minor one; a full agreement is sure to be a ways off.

Illinois Democrats are moving forward with attempts to override Governor Bruce Rauner's vetoes despite his offering what Republicans call an olive branch.  


It seems that Starbuck's new, ombre red holiday cups aren't Trump's cup of tea.

In between calling for a repeal of Obamacare,  criticizing Hillary Clinton and crowing about how he'll have Mexico build a wall separating it from the United States, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump used a campaign stop in Springfield Monday to wade into a controversy over what Starbucks is serving its java in.

Some Christians are upset with the cups' new design, which doesn't feature reindeer or ornaments, like in years' past.

A 50-year holiday tradition will light up the Illinois statehouse after all, even if a Grinch-like budget gridlock carries on through the rest of the year. Crews will hang strings of Christmas lights over the dome this morning.

Not having a state budget has led to a lot of consequences. One of the more visible ones: Secretary of State Jesse White announced last week the capitol would have to go dark for the holidays. White says the office can't afford it.

Thousands of low-income families would once be able to get state help paying for child care  under a compromise deal introduced Monday by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is backing off of his much maligned cuts to state-subsidized child care for working parents.  It's not expected to be enough to ward off the legislature tomorrow.  Already, thousands of kids have been cut off from daycare.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr/Creative Commons

Illinois' primary election is March 15 of next year. That's a full month and a half after the Iowa caucuses, which kickoff the race for America's next president. 

But some of the top candidates are spending time here. Hillary Clinton campaigned and raised money in Chicago last week.

Today, Republicans are flying in. Donald Trump will hold a rally in Springfield tonight; tickets are free, and even though you get them by going online, the manager of the downtown convention center hosting the event was quoted as saying phones have been ringing off the hook with interest.

Advocates for senior citizens and people with disabilities are assessing how action today by the Republican governor affects services they say they depend on.  Early this year, Gov. Bruce Rauner unveiled a plan to save money, by making it harder for the elderly and disabled individuals to qualify for government aid.

What's it like to be in charge of the state budget ... when there is no state budget? That's the topic for this edition of The Players: your look into who's who in Illinois politics and what they're up to.

The Illinois State Board of Education released loads of data on Friday, when the latest statewide report card debuted. But it doesn't include other information school officials say they'd really like to get ahold of.

The school report card shows student demographic trends, class size, graduation rates, how well teachers at any given district are paid compared with the state average.

But a key indicator of academic progress?

That's not posted.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has so far focused his attention on business and union issues, and restructuring state government.  Things like workers' compensation, tort reform and legislative term limits. But what about his education agenda?

Before he was Governor ... Bruce Rauner was a wealthy private equity investor known in some circles for his involvement in education.

There's even a charter school named after him: Chicago's Rauner College Prep. 

He's talked about the importance of scaling back mandates on districts, increasing school funding, support for school choice.

The makeup of Illinois schools is changing according to information released by the state.  If you moved every desk, from every Illinois school, into one giant classroom, more than half of the kids in those seats would be students of color.

Outside spending is fueling judicial races, and nowhere is that more apparent than in Illinois.  That's the finding of a new national study out Thursday by a trio of nonpartisan groups.  The study's lead author -- Scott Greytak  with the organization Justice at Stake --- says more than $3.3 million was spent on Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd's Karmeier's battle to stay on the bench last year.  Greytak says that's more than was spent on any other race in the United States.

Days after an Illinois high school student died from football injuries, a Cook County judge has dismissed a lawsuit alleging the sports' governing body didn't do enough to protect athletes. 

Illinois' public universities have gone without state support during the nearly five months legislators and the governor have been caught in gridlock.  That's creating a double fiscal whammy.