Rauner’s $250K education secretary reveals she reports only to governor

SHARE Rauner’s $250K education secretary reveals she reports only to governor

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s $250,000-a-year secretary of education, Beth Purvis, testified before an Illinois House panel on Tuesday, saying she is charged with handling education matters from “cradle to career” for children in the state of Illinois, but indicating she reports only to the governor.

Purvis’ testimony revealed her contract does not require her to hit certain benchmarks or produce reports to the state or the Illinois General Assembly to measure progress with respect to her duties.

“I report on a regular basis to the governor and discuss the activities that I’m doing,” Purvis said.

The discussion came as the House Appropriations-Human Services committee called Purvis to testify about her duties with the state.

At issue is why the governor’s $250,000 hand-picked education secretary is being paid out of a budget meant for the state’s most vulnerable rather than the governor’s own personnel budget. While Purvis is a full-time employee, she is being paid under a personal services contract and is not receiving state benefits. Purvis declined to answer when a committee member asked whether she volunteered not to take those benefits.

The hearing was called in response to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times that revealed Rauner had been taking part in a practice that other governors had indulged in before him – that of “off-shoring” their own personnel onto other agency budgets to make their own appear more lean.

The DHS had been the target of $26 million in cuts aimed at autism, epilepsy and burials for the indigent. The cuts took place just weeks after the governor’s office signed Purvis’ contract.

While those services were restored, DHS faces additional cuts over the next year.

Purvis was asked whether she agreed with Rauner’s budget recommendations that include reducing Early Intervention services.

“I think if it were not for the budget crisis, I don’t know that there would be a recommendation to change that,” Purvis said. “I think we are all concerned about any cuts to education or to Human Services.”

Purvis has an extensive background in education and most previously was the CEO of Chicago International Charter Schools. Purvis said she began on Feb. 17, 2015, and said Rauner has asked that “we create for Illinois families a more coherent and cohesive system of education from cradle to career.”

Members queried Purvis on what kinds of benchmarks she is supposed to hit. Purvis said she reports only to Rauner and has one employee from the governor’s office who reports to her.

Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, noted during the hearing that previous governors, including Gov. Pat Quinn, took part in the same practice as Rauner. Durkin said several members of Quinn’s staff were being paid out of the Department of Human Services.

“I just want everyone on this committee to understand, this is not a new issue,” Durkin said. “This is something that has happened before.”

Durkin added that the panel should call Quinn’s former employees before it, if it is going to continue down the same road and question Purvis.

The Latest
Thinking ahead to your next few meals? Here are some main dishes and sides to try.
Glenbard West’s Joey Pope enjoyed the Hilltoppers’ roll to the Class 4A basketball state title, but he thinks it’s time for the focus to return to the gridiron.
Happ homered twice in the Cubs’ 5-4 loss to the Nationals on Monday.
The Cubs lost the first game of a three-game series 5-4 on Monday against the Nationals.