Stories by Amanda Vinicky

Pritzker Offers 2 Budgets Amid Uncertainty Over Income Tax Changes

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker delivers his budget address in Springfield on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. (WTTW News)

With the acknowledgement that “our choices remain hard, our fiscal situation challenging,” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday delivered his proposal for a $42 billion state spending plan for the coming fiscal year.

Mayor Lightfoot Takes Chicago Casino Push to Springfield

Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks to reporters in Springfield on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020. (WTTW News)

Even as cities like Rockford and Waukegan move forward with their fresh authority to host casinos, Chicago is at a standstill.

Gov. Pritzker’s Plans for Plagued Child Welfare Agency

(Ken Teegardin / Flickr)

On Wednesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker will lay out his vision for the state budget. His office has already made public his plan to send more money to the Department of Children and Family Services.

Would a ‘Fair Map’ Halt Corruption?

(Meagan Davis / Wikimedia Commons)

Previous attempts to end gerrymandering in Illinois have come up short, but a coalition of advocacy groups are at it once again.

Discovery Partners Institute Gets Long-Awaited State Cash

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks about funding for the Discovery Partners Institute on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. (WTTW News)

The 78 megadevelopment gets a big boost as Gov. J.B. Pritzker announces $500 million in funding for the University of Illinois tech hub that will make its home on the Near South Side.

Spotlight Politics: Foxx Fight, Preckwinkle Aide Trouble

Actor Jussie Smollett is facing a fresh set of charges for allegedly staging a hate crime on himself. Our politics team digs into that and more in our weekly roundtable.

It’s Illegal to Pump Your Own Gas in New Jersey. Could Illinois Follow Suit?

(WTTW News)

A bill proposed in early February by Rep. Camille Lilly, D-Chicago, would ban Illinois drivers from pumping their own gas. 

Sen. Durbin on Trump: ‘This Isn’t Going to End’

Sen. Dick Durbin speaks at a press conference Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. (WTTW News)

When he cast his vote finding President Donald Trump guilty on two articles of impeachment, Sen. Dick Durbin called it a “sad and angry moment.” Now that the trial is over, Durbin fears Trump won’t change his behavior.

State Offers Guidance on Medical Pot

(Photo by Add Weed / Unsplash)

A little more than a month after Illinois legalized marijuana, questions remain about whether the program is as equitable as promised. The popularity of pot is also affecting medical users.

‘Sweeping’ TIF Changes … But Are They Enough?

(Ken Teegardin / Flickr)

As a candidate, Lori Lightfoot pledged to overhaul the tax increment financing system. On Wednesday, her administration unveiled how it's beginning to make good on that promise. 

For the First Time, You Can Fill Out Your Census Form Online

“If you’re mad about your school being closed in your neighborhood, be counted. If you’re mad about the resources not coming to your community, be counted,” said Chicago Ald. Howard Brookins Jr., 21st Ward.

The U.S. census goes mobile and modern. How else it will work – and why government leaders say the stakes are high.

In State of the State, Pritzker Frames Illinois in Positive Light Despite Cloud of Corruption

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker delivers his second State of the State address in Springfield on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. (WTTW News via Blue Room Media)

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker pointedly used his State of the State address Wednesday to frame Illinois in a positive light thanks to the burst of laws passed during the first year of his administration.

Former State Sen. Sandoval Pleads Guilty to Bribery, Tax Fraud

In this file photo, state Sen. Martin Sandoval speaks with WTTW News.

Instead of spending Tuesday in Springfield for the start of Illinois’ 2020 legislative session, former state Sen. Martin Sandoval spent it in federal court in Chicago, where he admitted to taking a quarter of a million dollars in bribes.

Election Security Check: Chicago’s New Voting Machines

(WTTW News)

Illinois voters can begin casting ballots for the March 17 primary as soon as next week. Will new voting machines in Chicago and suburban Cook County provide better security?

No Slam Dunk, but Sports Wagering Possible by March Madness

(WTTW News)

When a massive gambling expansion package was signed into law in June, early hopes were that Illinois gamblers would be able to wager on the Super Bowl. Such bets are off, but new rules move the ball forward.

Spotlight Politics: Hundreds Erroneously Registered to Vote

Why 574 people in Illinois were erroneously registered to vote. Our politics team digs into that story and more in our weekly roundtable.

Illinois’ New Senate President Don Harmon Leaving Law Firm Job

Illinois Senate President Don Harmon appears on “Chicago Tonight” on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (WTTW News)

At a time when leading legislators’ private side jobs are increasingly under scrutiny, newly elevated state Senate President Don Harmon will step down as a partner at the law firm Burke Burns & Pinelli, Ltd. to focus full-time on his new leadership position.

Does Illinois Have the Energy to Opt out of FERC?

(WTTW News)

A Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruling issued in December could lead to a spike in your energy bills – but then again, maybe not. It’s the latest energy battle set to play out in Springfield.

Illinois Senators Elect New President: Oak Park’s Don Harmon

Sen. Don Harmon of Oak Park appears on “Chicago Tonight” on Feb. 22, 2018. (WTTW News)

Illinois’ primary election isn’t until March, but perhaps the most consequential state race of the year has already taken place, as state senators on Sunday elected a new president: Sen. Don Harmon of Oak Park.

Inside Odd Obsession: Chicago’s Volunteer-Run Video Library

(WTTW News)

Remember the days when watching a movie at home required a trip to the video rental store? Blockbuster is long gone, but there are still a few places to rent movies in Chicago, including this well-stocked shop in Bucktown.

Spotlight Politics: A Corruption Check-In

Just weeks into 2020, fresh headlines are shining light on politicians behaving unethically. Our politics team digs into those stories and more in our weekly roundtable.

Governor’s 1st Year: Pritzker on Pot, Madigan and Pensions

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks with Amanda Vinicky of “Chicago Tonight” on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. (WTTW News)

One year ago, Illinois got a new leader when J.B. Pritzker was sworn in as the state’s 43rd governor. Pritzker reflects on his first year in office and looks ahead to what’s next.

Madigan Rejects Call for House Investigation of Alleged Cover-Up

(Adam Jones / Flickr)

House Speaker Michael Madigan rebuffed a call by his Republican counterpart to convene a special House committee to investigate an alleged “criminal cover-up” detailed in an email written by one of Madigan’s top confidants.

5 Myths About Legal Marijuana

(Photo by Rick Proctor / Unsplash)

Recreational cannabis has been legal in Illinois for a week, but there’s still a lot of confusion over how the law is supposed to work. We clear the air.

Growing Like Weed: The Business of Legal Pot

(WTTW News)

If the lines winding past cannabis dispensaries haven’t yet provided proof, numbers released by state officials Monday illustrate the demand for recreational marijuana. What to expect as a longtime underground market goes above board.