Among the first hires for newly-elected Gov. Bruce Rauner was Beth Purvis who, apparently by virtue of her status as a former charter school director, Rauner tapped as secretary of education.
Eyebrows were raised when it was learned that Purvis would be paid $250,000 to be the governor’s education czar, more than double what her predecessors received. That salary seems especially excessive now that we know where the money is coming from.
But her contract, signed March 13, indicates that she’s being paid out of the Department of Human Services, even as it indicates she will “report directly to the governor’s chief of staff or designee.”
Three weeks after Purvis’ contract was signed, the governor’s office announced that the Department of Human Services was strapped for cash, and sliced $26 million in services including for autism, epilepsy and burials for the indigent. The cuts, later known as “the Good Friday Massacre,” caused some programs to completely shut down. The cuts caused a furor, prompting House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, to call a public hearing on why it happened after Democrats said they believed a budget deal with the governor protected such services.
After all sorts of hell was raised, Rauner restored the funding to the department that, according to its mission statement, aims to serve “those who are striving to move from welfare to work and economic independence and others who face multiple challenges to self-sufficiency.”
How paying Purvis a quarter of a million dollars falls within the agency’s mission puzzles Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), who calls it, “..financial trickery.”
On Thursday afternoon, Harris issued a letter calling for the governor to explain:
“I invite you to appear before the House Human Services Appropriations Committee to explain the decision-making process that led to this situation. We are also interested to know if there are other department heads whose compensation is buried within the budgets of departments other than those that they lead.”
Harris says the governor, who promised to run the most transparent administration ever, is not being transparent.
But the legislator is mistaken on that last point. Bruce Rauner is transparent.
You can see right through him.