Amanda Vinicky

Statehouse Bureau Chief/ The Players Blog

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 Supreme Court Building
Illinois Supreme Court

Judicial races are getting increasingly politicized, according to a study published Thursday surveying 2013-2014 state Supreme Court races called "Bankrolling the Bench."

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.

SEIU Healthcare Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner recently reached an agreement with a trio of unions -- representing some 300 plumbers, machinists and engineers and operators. But he's still at odds with unions representing the bulk of state employees: the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and the Service Employees International Union.

SEIU represents home care workers -- people who help the disabled and elderly care for themselves. Denise Gaines, legislative director of SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana, says now, these workers get paid to take important training.

Brass rail outside the Governor's office
Amanda Vinicky / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Mark your calendars. A date has been set. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has called a meeting with the legislature's leaders to talk about the budget impasse for Nov. 18.

Illinois still has no budget plan and no progress on an agreement is in sight.  The state is spending far more than it's taking in, higher education and social services have largely been left out to dry, and Illinois' credit rating continues to be downgraded.  Meanwhile, Governor Rauner is beginning to face criticism from within his own party.  Kurt Erickson of Lee Enterprises joins the panel discussion this week.


Illinois has twice seen its credit rating take a hit this week.

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

 On the state's 113th day without a budget, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner Thursday sloughed off critical comments made by his a pair of his predecessors.

Former Gov. Jim Edgar's still a popular figure within the Illinois GOP, which is why the harsh nature of his recent remarks garnered a lot of attention. Edgar scolded Rauner for putting his pro-business agenda ahead of the budget.

Then another Republican Governor from the past - James Thompson -- also said that Illinois' is in the worst position it's ever been.


Illinois lawmakers' one-day session Tuesday yielded no budget breakthroughs. The state's been without a spending plan for what'll soon reach five months.

Illinois lawmakers have been unable to come together on a state budget, but they did reach a significant bipartisan agreement Tuesday.

Wikimedia commons

Members of the Illinois House and Senate will be in Springfield again Tuesday, but there's still no budget deal for them to vote on.

Illinois' public university presidents had warned in a letter of the "irreparable damage" being caused by having to wait three months, and counting, for state money to come their way. Now, they're taking their case to the capitol. University leaders could have audiences with the governor, and legislative leaders. Senate President John Cullerton's spokeswoman, Rikeesha Phelon, Cullerton will set aside time to meet with them.

It's fast approaching the time that the governor and Illinois lawmakers would typically begin planning for next year's budget, even though they've yet to settle on one for this year. Two-year budgets are standard practice for some states.

Illinois’ comptroller says the state doesn't have the cash to pay into the public pension systems next month, the governor suggests selling the aging Thompson Center in Chicago, and the former head of Chicago’s public schools pleads guilty to charges of corruption.  WBEZ's Becky Vevea and Lauren Chooljian joins the panel.

Illinois Lottery

More Illinois Lottery prizewinners won't be able to reap their rewards immediately. The Lottery says claims will be paid only once a budget is passed.

The Illinois Lottery website has a press release, dated Aug. 13, 2015. It quotes Homer Glen resident Rhonda Rasche, who'd won $50,000 on a Crossword ticket, exclaiming "This is amazing! I can't believe it's happening to me!"

She's still waiting on the cash, and is suing the state to get it.

Leslie Munger at Inauguration 2015
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois won't make its next pension payment; Comptroller Leslie Munger Wednesday announced she can't, because the state doesn't have the cash.

Illinois lawmakers are increasingly trying to make it easier for residents to be involved in politics -- there'll be a hearing Tuesday in Chicago on automatic voter registration. A separate proposal that goes in the opposite direction. But its sponsor says it's for good reason.

Illinois' next election isn't until March, but you can go ahead right now and register to vote in it. More the procrastinating type? A new state law says you can now also register right up until, and on, the day of the election, at any precinct.

Trade Mission: Cuba

Oct 12, 2015
Rich Berning

A steady stream of American elected officials have traveled to Cuba since the two countries restored diplomatic ties over the summer.

Amanda Vinicky

Another lawsuit over a pension law was filed this week in Illinois, this time seeking to strike a law that reduced Chicago Park District pensions. That could be significant for other local governments, and future negotiations.

When it first passed, the park district pension law was seen as a possible model for future ones, in part because it had been drafted in cooperation with SEIU, the union representing park district workers.

Illinois is now 100+ days without any agreement on or even negotiation towards a state spending plan.  One item on which there does seem to be agreement is a replacement for Illinois' retiring Auditor General.  Gatehouse Media's Doug Finke joins the panel.

Bruce Rauner

It's the 100th day Illinois has been without a budget. The state has without a budget before -- but going this long is unprecedented.

Local health departments are responsible for everything from restaurant inspections, regulating private sewage systems and water wells and investigating disease outbreaks -- all services that are threatened, as they await for state money to come through.

Amanda Vinicky

Low-income, working parents are fighting to once again get help from the state for childcare.

Commonwealth Edison's CEO says the utility is continuing to push for changes that failed to win legislative approval in the spring.

Illinois has surpassed the 90-day mark of going without a budget. The governor on Friday signaled that number will keep rising.

Illinois' budget impasse means public universities have gone three months without any state funding. The State Museum has closed. Therapists that worked with disabled infants quit, because they weren't getting paid. The Secretary of State's office isn't going to mail out reminders about expiring license plate registration, because it can't afford the postage.

Lisa Ryan

As Illinois enters a second quarter without a budget in place, Gov. Bruce Rauner put the blame on legislators.  He made the remark Friday after a manufacturing event in Effingham.

Rauner, a Republican, says his administration will keep essential services going as the impasse continues, and warned that it could last awhile longer.

Illinois government continues limping through its partial shutdown.  This week, the Illinois State Museum was shuttered, the secretary of state announced he won’t be reminding you when to renew your license plates, and at least one state facility has had the water shut off.  Could a revolt among rank-and-file legislators break the stalemate?  Brian Mackey talks about that and more with Amanda Vinicky, Jamey Dunn of Illinois Issues, and Natasha Korecki of the Politico Illinois Playbook.

University of Illinois Public Affairs

Illinois' elementary and high schools are operating as normal; funding for education was the only spending spared from Governor Bruce Rauner's veto pen. But universities are another story. They haven't gotten a dollar from the state since July.

Collectively, Illinois' public universities educate some 200,000 students a year. Now, the campuses are "on the brink of serious operational damage."

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois' racing board is taking a gamble in an attempt to save the beleaguered industry. Two historic Illinois tracks will hold no races next year, a decision that could lead to their permanent closure.

Paul Kehrer via Flickr

The owners of Illinois' horse race tracks say the industry is struggling to survive, but key players diverge on how to salvage the industry. Decisions by a state board Tuesday afternoon could determine tracks' fate. The Illinois Racing Board is set to decide during a meeting in Chicago which Illinois tracks can hold horse meets, and when --- a decision that's key to the tracks' profitability.

"We look at this meeting today as probably one of the most important ones that we have ever been to," said Dick Duchoissois, chairman and owner of the Arlington Park track.

Amanda Vinicky

Critics say Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is too liberal, but he's gaining in polls against presumed Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. On Monday, he took his campaign to Illinois.

In 1964, Sanders graduated from the University of Chicago in a ceremony at the on-campus Rockefeller chapel. Now as a U.S. Senator from Vermont, Sanders returned to students packing the pews to hear him speak.