Amanda Vinicky

217-206-6019

Read Amanda's "Leadership" 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. 

Flickr user Daniel Borman / "Money, Money, Money" (CC BY 2.0)

A credit analyst with Moody's Investor Service says Illinois's bond rating will remain unchanged, despite the state entering its third month without a budget. But the chances of a downgrade increase the longer a gridlock continues.

Illinois has the nations' lowest credit rating -- a grade that symbolizes its fiscal troubles, and adds to them. A lower score makes it costlier to borrow.

But the rating won't drop any further just yet.

If you've been meaning to visit the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, the Dickson Mounds archeological site, or museum shops in Lockport and Chicago, you have one month left to do it.

AFSCME

A key vote in the standoff between Gov. Bruce Rauner and labor is expected in the Illinois House this week, as early as Wednesday.

Rauner has been trying to convince legislators to let him keep his power to negotiate with the AFSCME union, even if it results in a lockout or strike -- though Rauner has vowed he won't call for the former.

At the same time, AFSCME leaders are asking state representatives to stick with them.

A last-minute appointment former Governor Pat Quinn made after losing last year's election has spurred a new law.

Lou Bertuca was a political operative, a key player in Quinn's ultimately failed campaign.

Shortly before Quinn left the governor's mansion, he helped make sure Bertuca had his next job locked up.

Quinn appointed Bertuca, then 30 years old, to a multi-year contract with an annual salary of $160,000 as CEO of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority.

A state lawmaker says he won't agree to changes Governor Bruce Rauner has made to a major anti-heroin package. 

It took more than a year for legislators to draft what Rep. Lou Lang says could be a model for the nation, in combating an uptick of opiod use.

The end result requires school nurses and ambulances to be equipped with antidotes, mandates the state maintain a list of heroin-related deaths, and has doctors track some painkiller prescriptions.

WUIS

Despite great weather, Illinois's State Fair, which fell later in August than usual, saw a huge decline in attendance.

At the state fair's kickoff earlier this month, Gov. Bruce Rauner announced his love of the event.

"I hope everybody in Springfield, everybody around the state, come on out," he said before the fair's opening parade.

Instead, figures show attendance fell by half. The state says 411,500 people went through the fair's gates, versus the 847,000 who showed up last year.

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

The portion of the gas tax collected when you fuel your car is supposed to be forwarded to Illinois municipalities. They use it to fill potholes, or buy road salt.

Instead, that money is trapped in the budget stalemate.

Macomb Mayor Michael Inman says this month's skipped payment is preventing cities from repairing roads.

"Mayors find themselves in a holding pattern as we wait for the state to take action,” Inman said. “Winter is fast approaching, and time is not on our side."

state of Illinois

Illinois nears the end of August, and there's still no state budget in place. But House members will return to Springfield today.

The Illinois House controls the fate of a measure that's not a budget bill, per say, but which Gov. Bruce Rauner says could have major financial ramifications for the state.

It'd prevent his ability to lock out state workers -- something he's said he won't do -- as well as forbid employees from striking. Instead, an arbitrator would settle an impasse if Rauner and the AFSCME union can't agree to a new contract.

WUIS

The Illinois National Guard's commanding officer says for years the guard has been planning for the biggest catastrophes that could affect Illinois, like an earthquake in southern Illinois along the New Madrid fault.

Major General Richard Hayes Junior says trying out those plans is at the heart of an exercise in Springfield this week, simulating a 7.7 magnitude quake.

Hayes says he'll incorporate lessons learned following the Hurricane Katrina disaster ten years ago.

Wikipedia

The Democratic Party of Illinois isn't officially backing any one candidate for U.S. Senate. That has leading Democrats going their own separate ways when it comes to endorsements.

Nationally, Democrats hope their chances of winning back control of the Senate begin in Illinois next year, when Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk faces re-election.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says Democrats' best shot rests with Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth. But state Sen. Kwame Raoul says Andrea Zopp is the best qualified for this race.

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