At least nobody talked about her behind her back. Beth Purvis, Illinois’ secretary of education, was in a committee room Tuesday afternoon in Springfield to face members of a House appropriations committee. The Democrats on the panel are concerned about Purvis’ salary, $250,000, coming not from the governor’s office or from an education budget, but from the Illinois Department of Human Services.
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Purvis, whose career includes much time in special education as well as in higher education, is touted by the administration as one of the “superstars” who is going to help turn around Illinois. “It is Gov. (Bruce) Rauner’s goal that we create for Illinois families a more coherent and cohesive system of education from cradle to career,” she said.
Last week, a bombastic hearing that was reprised in part on the House floor kicked off with a missive from the governor’s office accusing Democrats of being sexist. At today’s hearing, State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) said that what is truly sexist is the administration seemingly wanting to shut the door on child care programs upon which single mothers depend.
As for the line item question, previous administrations have done that, including that of Pat Quinn, whom Rauner defeated in November. Making that point today was House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs). Asked after he departed whether “Pat Quinn did it” was really the point Republican leaders want to make, Durkin said he simply wanted to point out the disingenuousness of the Democrats.