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. 

Brian Mackey / Illinois Public Radio

Illinois has gone four and a half months without a budget. It's gone even longer -- five and a half months -- since the governor and leaders of the legislature have all gotten together to talk about it. The last time that happened was at the end of May. 

Gov. Bruce Rauner finally released his plans Friday  for the meeting with legislative leaders next Wednesday in his Springfield office.

Illinois State Museum / state of Illinois

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 re-opening.

Advocates have mourned the loss of the Springfield-based museum, which also hosts researchers and preserves millions of artifacts.

Despite the closure, most of the museum's staff have so far held onto their jobs. Their union is fighting with Governor Bruce Rauner's administration in court.

But State Museum Board Chairman Guerry Suggs says other employees have quit, taken new jobs, or retired. 

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.

This is something that hasn't been said much this session, at least by a Republican to a Democrat, when it comes anything having to do with the budget:

"I plan to vote for your bill today, and I've also encouraged my caucus to vote for your bill as well," Republican House GOP Leader Jim Durkin said.

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.


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 and 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.

Flickr user Brent Hoard "ECU School of Education Class Room" (CC BY 2.0)

The diversity makeup of Illinois schools is changing. That’s 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.

That's on par with national figures. Last year, the U.S. Department of Education signaled that minorities would outnumber whites at the nation's public schools.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has so far focused his attention on business and union issues, and restructuring state government - like workers' compensation, tort reform and legislative term limits.

But what about his education agenda?

Before he was governor, 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.

Illinois Supreme Court

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

Illinois sticks out when it comes to money spent to elect or keep judges on the bench. But not in a good way, according to the report's lead author Scott Greytak, who works for the nonpartisan group Justice at Stake.


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

There have been lawsuits against the NFL, but the one brought against the Illinois High School Association a year ago was the first class action suit against a prep sports governing body.

A former South Elgin High School lineman, Alex Pierscionek, says he suffers from memory loss after getting concussions in games; he alleges the IHSA fails to protect athletes.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner recently reached an agreement with a trio of unions. They represent about 300 plumbers, machinists, engineers and operators.

But Rauner'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.