Salary of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s education secretary comes from agency that fund autism, epilepsy programs

Last month I wrote about the draconian cuts to autism funding by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner of Illinois, cuts that came on World Autism Day.

On Wednesday Natasha Korecki of the Chicago Sun Times reported Gov. Rauner is also paying the $250,000 salary of Beth Purvis, his education secretary, out of the budget of the Illinois Department of Human Services, which funds autism and epilepsy services, among other programs. Here’s a snippet from Natasha Korecki’s report.

In March, Rauner tapped Beth Purvis, a former charter school director, as his education secretary at an annual salary of $250,000.

At the time it was the highest-paid position in the governor’s cabinet.

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.

There doesn’t appear to be any good reason for Gov. Rauner’s decision to fund his education secretary’s salary out of the Illinois Department of Human Services rather than from the budget of the Department of Education, but there certainly do seem to be lot of questions about why exactly it was necessary.


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