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. 

Illinois could see its already worst-in-the-nation credit rating sink further--all the way to "junk" status.

Moody's Vice President Ted Hampton says investors have asked the ratings agency if that's even possible.

Because they can raise taxes, states are generally considered safe, and mostly have high ratings.

But Hampton says there's no credit floor.  It is possible for Illinois' rating to drop to "junk."

Flickr user Teemu008 / "Executive Mansion" (Creative Commons)

The 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,” Evans said. “The leaks have stopped. There's no more water infiltration. The next thing will be just to complete the rest of the rehabilitation."

Hundreds of candidates -- or their supporters -- stood in line Monday morning outside the State Board of Elections office in Springfield to turn in nominating petitions.

Anyone there before 8 a.m. could be listed first should they make it onto the primary ballot.

Theresa Mah is one of them. She's running for state representative in the second district, in Chicago.

Mah says that, when she knocked on voters' doors to get their signatures, most people were supportive. 

Others were concerned about the Illinois budget.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois is in uncharted territory. It will soon begin its sixth month without a budget. 

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrats who dominate the legislature continue to spar about what the future of Illinois 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?

If you're someone who reports on government and politics, like I do, there's one question you've asked a lot lately: "When is Illinois going to get a budget?"

Illinois General Assembly

The race for Illinois comptroller has narrowed: There will no longer be a Democratic primary.

State Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, confirmed he will not run. That means Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza will have no opposition in the Democratic primary next March.

Candidates can begin filing paperwork today to run for state office. They have until the end of the month.

But Biss says he won't turn in his petitions at all.

Central Illinois Food Bank

Christmas lights are up at the Illinois capitol, despite a brief period where it had appeared the state budget impasse would keep the dome dark. That interlude led to another outcome, appropriate during the season for giving.

The lights are on, thanks to a trio of unions that have offered to pay the state's Christmas lights electric bill.

But before that'd been finalized, Kristina Rasmussen had tried another method.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

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 voted Thursday to recommend restrictions on organized labor.

Members listening in via conference call heard an unexpected interlude.

The task force is made of legislators, mayors and a library trustee. During the meeting, they approved recommendations like incentivizing schools to consolidate and encouraging municipalities to share equipment.

Illinois Child Care Bureau

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

Governor Bruce Rauner rolled back the program drastically in July, which helps low-income working parents afford daycare. Lawmakers were set to reverse the cuts last week, but Rauner agreed to a deal instead.

Senator Toi Hutchinson helped to negotiate with the governor.

Flickr user Pictures of Money / "Money" (CC BY 2.0)

There's no budget deal on the immediate horizon in Illinois, which is set to round out a fifth month without any budget in place. However, two frameworks have just been released.

The drafters hope they'll stimulate movement. 

State Sen. Karen McConnaughay, R-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. 

Illinois General Assembly

Republicans interested in running for Raymond Poe's former district in the Illinois House have until 5 p.m. Wednesday to submit an application to the Sangamon County GOP.

Poe on Friday announced he'll begin Monday as the agriculture director, meaning he won't be running for reelection.

Sangamon County Republican Chairman Rosemarie Long says the party will run a candidate in the primary, even though petitions are due the end of this month.

"Very short, very short time," Long said with a chuckle.