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. 

Flickr User Medisave UK / "Littmann Stethoscope" (CC BY 2.0)

At least sixteen of Illinois' 97 public health departments have laid off employees or cut back service hours. More are expected unless the state comes through with funding.

It comes as flu season approaches, after regional outbreaks of Legionnaire's Disease and the mumps, and after the state announced that it will no longer pay for testing STD specimens. This means the local departments have to take on an additional cost.

President of the Illinois Association of Public Health Administrators, Miriam Link-Mullison, says the fiscal situation is increasingly desperate.


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

Since July, Illinois drastically reduced who's eligible for the state's daycare assistance program. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner made the change, he says, to save money.

For nearly two hours Tuesday at a hearing in Springfield, daycare providers and parents -- like Chante Morrison -- pressed Rauner to cancel the rollbacks.

Morrison is a single mother of two girls from Galesburg.

"I wanna work; my children need to know that you have to work to succeed," Morrison said.

Flickr user E Photos / "IMG_1927 - Power Lines" (CC v 2.0)

Commonwealth Edison's CEO says the state's largest utility is about halfway through with a major component of a grid modernization program.

A controversial law passed in 2011 hiked the price for the delivery of electricity. Ameren and ComEd were to use the money for infrastructure upgrades, like the installation of so-called "smart meters."

Smart meters are digital devices that measure electricity use, and send that information back to the utilities.

Flickr User James Bowe / "Lightbulb" (CC BY 2.0)

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

Anne Pramaggiore told an audience at the City Club of Chicago that a 2011 so-called "Smart Grid" law has led to savings and a more reliable power network.

But she says further improvement—like microgrids that can keep electricity flowing when there's an outage, and charging stations for electric cars—depends on help from Springfield.

ConAgra Foods

Governor Bruce Rauner says Illinois will see a net gain of jobs from a  Fortune 500 company that just received state tax breaks. 

ConAgra already employees Illinois workers, but it's transferring them from Naperville to Chicago. That’s part of a larger move to the city from its headquarters in Omaha.

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."

state of Illinois

Two Illinois legislators are finalists for a bigger job in state government. Frank Mautino and Elaine Nekritz -- both Democrats in the Illinois House -- are among the finalists to be auditor general next year.

State Senator Jason Barickman, a Republican from Bloomington, is on the commission that helped narrow the field. Barickman says he's optimistic the next auditor general will be selected before the current one retires at the end of this year.

Amanda Vinicky / WUIS

Illinois's racing board is taking a gamble in an attempt to save the beleaguered industry.

Two historic Illinois tracks will hold no races next year. That’s a decision that could lead to their permanent closure.

The decision by Illinois's 11-member racing board was unanimous: No horses will run at Balmoral and Maywood parks in 2016.

"We can't sit out a year and survive; we'll have to default on our lease and that'll be the end of it," said Duke Johnston, a partial owner of the tracks. His family has long been in the business.


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.


Illinois is about to enter its fourth month without a budget. One of the state's top Democrats says the problem could be resolved within days, if the governor moved off his insistence that other laws pass first.

The last time Gov. Bruce Rauner and the legislative leaders all got together was when the state had no budget crisis; it was apparently in late May, before the last fiscal year was over.