Republicans claim hearing on Rauner $250k education czar “sexist”

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office played the sex card in defending its secretary of education at a Thursday committee hearing.

Democrats in the General Assembly say they are not concerned about that secretary, Beth Purvis, just that her salary – $250,000 – is coming out of another department, Human Services – a department which would suffer multimillion-dollar cuts to programs under the governor’s proposed spending plan.

Rich Goldberg, a deputy chief of staff who has been called upon to defend the administration before various committees, accused members of the House Human Services Appropriations Committee of conducting a “sham hearing” to sully the reputation of a “superstar” who happens to be a woman. A news release issued as he began speaking decried a “sexist” attack.

“It’s not making sense,” said State Rep. Lisa Hernandez (D-Cicero), who said the education budget would be a more suitable source of Purvis’ income. Goldberg accused the lawmakers of thinking in silos and of trying to distract from the Democrat-passed deficit budget.

“You’re describing something that isn’t reality,” Goldberg told Hernandez.

Goldberg and the Republicans on the panel said paying members of the governor’s staff out of different agencies’ budgets is an established practice.

“I’m sorry you don’t like it. I’m sorry you think she makes too much. I’m sorry you think it should be budgeted elsewhere,” retorted State Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove). “Tough beans. Seriously, get over it,” Sandack spat out.

Purvis did not attend the hearing.