SPRINGFIELD — The Rauner administration continued its non-engagement with combative members of the legislature – this time, over employment agreements given the current and former superintendents of the Illinois State Board of Education.

State Rep. Jack Franks, known as a persistent bomb-thrower even among his fellow Democrats, says the board should answer for Tony Smith’s $225,000 salary, car allowance, pension stipend, and more. He says ISBE and Smith reneged on an agreement to renegotiate the contract, and he’s also mad about the six-figure severance package given Chris Koch, whom Smith replaced.

At a committee hearing this week – at which nobody from ISBE showed up – Franks bristled at a suggestion he simply put his questions in writing.

“We’re not a friendship society,” fumed Franks. “We are the General Assembly, and we are the oversight committee for the state of Illinois. I cannot cross-examine a letter.”

The next day, the ISBE met in Springfield. In brief remarks to reporters, Smith said, “I’m a Tier Two employee,” brushing off the idea that a $11,000 stipend is meant to make up for his ineligibility for the expired and more lucrative Tier One plan. He referred other questions to ISBE chairman James Meeks, whom ISBE spokeswoman Laine Evans said would not be made available for comment.

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