Top officials of the state board of education declined to appear before a House committee yesterday to answer questions about costly perks being paid to the board’s superintendent, Tony Smith. Smith was appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, and receives a stipend on top of his $225,000 salary.
Representative Jack Franks, a Marengo Democrat who chairs the committee, said their absence shows disrespect and a lack of transparency.
“This is the first administration that doesn’t require its agencies to appear before committees," Franks said. "And it could not have come at a worse time for taxpayers."
Some lawmakers suggested sending the questions in a letter, but Franks said no.
“I categorically reject that request,” he said. "We’re not a friendship society; we are the General Assembly and we are the oversight committee for the State of Illinois. I cannot cross-examine a letter.”
Smith’s contract also provides that he will do annual self-evaluations before receiving salary increases.