Lawmaker invites Rauner to testify on why education czar’s salary comes from DHS

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois House Democrats are asking Gov. Bruce Rauner to appear before a House committee to explain why the governor’s office arranged to have his $250,000-a-year education czar paid out of money meant for “the frailest and most

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vulnerable populations in the state.”

In a letter shared on social media, state Rep. Greg Harris, who chairs the Human Services Appropriations committee, questions testimony by then-Acting DHS Secretary Gregory Bassi and then-interim secretary James Dimas “that the lack of available funding was responsible for the decision to eliminate or reduce funding for these vitally needed programs. These programs serve many of the frailest and most vulnerable populations in the state.”

In his letter, Harris invites Rauner to appear before the House Human Services Appropriations Committee to explain the decision-making process that led to this situation.

He says the committee is 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 highlights in his letter a list of programs that were either eliminated or had their funding cut under Rauner’s Good Friday Massacre of the DHS budget. Included in that list were wages for people employed in developmental disability facilities, Autism services, epilepsy services and mental health services.

While the cuts were restored for the remainder of this fiscal year, the administration has called for more cuts for services in FY16.

Harris said today the letter was hand-delivered to the governor’s office, but a Rauner spokesman said he had not seen the letter.
Harris cautions Rauner in his letter that given the history of governors in Illinois, he doesn’t believe that simply repeating mistakes from the past is a good idea.