Legislative Update: August 24, 2016

As one of my first official acts as your State Representative in Springfield, I took steps last week to reject my legislative pension, with paperwork submitted last week. Illinois’ underfunded and unsustainable pension systems are in need of reform and this will be one of my top priorities as I begin my tenure in the House of Representatives. To that end, I feel strongly that I should lead by example and remove any appearance of a conflict when ultimately asked to vote in favor of or against a pension reform proposal.

Illinois’ underfunded pension system has been identified as the worst in the nation, which has led to repeated downgrades in the state’s credit rating. Today the state’s credit rating is barely above junk-bond status. The pension obligation is crowding out other essential areas of the budget to a point where critical service areas are not receiving the levels of funding they need. Finding a fair and Constitutionally-sound solution to the pension crisis that protects pensions for today’s retirees is imperative if we are to get Illinois’ fiscal house in order. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and with stakeholders to find the right solution.

Olsen Helps to Welcome New Teachers at Luncheon
Last week it was my privilege to attend and address two luncheons welcoming new teachers at our local schools. There was a great deal of energy in those rooms as the new educators prepared to embark on their teaching careers in our local communities, and I was honored to support them. Thank you to the Downers Grove Lions Club for hosting the luncheon for new teachers in High School District 99 and Downers Grove Grade School District 58, and to Chamber 630 for hosting Woodridge Grade School District 68. 

House Republican Leader Appoints Olsen to Serve on Key House Education Committees
As a product of our excellent local public schools, ensuring that local schools – from pre-K to college – are dedicated to providing the best education possible is a passion of mine. To date, my involvement has been through leading the turnaround of College of DuPage as a Trustee and Board Vice Chairman for the past six months and through my active role on the Board of Directors for the District 58 Education Foundation. Because educational excellence is a cause that is very dear to me, I was very pleased to learn that House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) appointed me to serve on three key committees and task forces that focus on Education. My education-related committee assignments include:
  • Community College Access & Affordability
  • Elementary & Secondary Education, School Curriculum Policies
  • House Education Funding Task Force
These assignments will provide me with an opportunity to participate in the shaping of future policy as it relates to all levels of education in Illinois. Finding the proper balance between ensuring opportunities for student success and protecting the taxpayers who fund our schools is a challenge I am excited to tackle as a lawmaker.

In addition to the three education committees, I have also been selected to serve on the Judiciary-Criminal, Public Utilities, Renewable Energy & Sustainability and Public Private Partnerships committees. These all represent areas of interest to me, and I look forward to joining the legislative debate when legislators return to Springfield in November.

Olsen Joins Parents, Educators and Community Members for Grand Opening of Owen’s Playground
Rain did not dampen the excitement earlier this month when School District 58 and Hillcrest Elementary School celebrated the Grand Opening of Owen’s Playground. This state-of-the-art playground is the first all-accessible playground in the area. A local community organization formed by Hillcrest parent Peg Chaidez, Dream Build Play Experience, partnered with not-for-profit Abide In Me of Lemont, to make the playground a reality through private fundraising and donations. The playground was built based on input from students, parents, and educators to encourage creativity and activity among children of all abilities. It will serve as a model for schools creating better learning environments and playground areas that serve all students. It was a pleasure to help parents, educators, volunteers and children celebrate the addition of this new treasure in the Downers Grove community.

Mark Your Calendars for Upcoming Community Events
Since taking office on August 3, I have already hosted a document shredding event paired with a collection drive for local not-for-profit Sharing Connections, and a Property Tax Forum, where taxpayers learned how their tax bills are created, how they can maximize their exemptions and how they can appeal their assessment if they believe it is too high. I have three more events coming up in the next few weeks, so please feel free to attend any or all of these free community outreach activities:
  • Saturday, August 27: Open House: Please join me for coffee and donuts at my District Office between 9:00 and 11:00 AM so I can introduce myself and learn about the issues that are important to you. My office is located at 633 Rogers Street, Suite #108 in Downers Grove.
  • Wednesday, August 31: Jobs Fair: On the 31st, I will be partnering with Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin for a free Jobs Fair that will be held from 9:00 AM until 12:30 PM at CORE Fitness Center, 16028 W. 127th Street in Lemont. This event will bring together more than 90 employers who are actively hiring good people and also features a series of workshops to assist those looking for employment with their job search. The workshops include:
    • 9:00: How to Navigate through the State Employment Process (for those looking to take a job with the State of Illinois)
    • 9:30: Creating the “Stand Out” Resume
    • 10:30: Networking Your Way to a New Job
    • 11:30: Successful Interviewing Techniques
  • Saturday, September 10: Veterans Fair and Blood Drive: For this event I will again partner with Leaders Radogno and Durkin for an expo designed specifically for our veterans and their families. Join us from 9:00 AM until 12:30 PM on September 10th at the American Legion Post 80, 4000 Saratoga Avenue in Downers Grove for this popular outreach event. More than 40 community partners will have booths set up under one roof to answer questions and provide information to veterans. LifeSource will also be on site collecting blood donations throughout the 3 ½-hour event.
You can learn more about all of these upcoming events by visiting my web site at www.repolsen.com or by calling my office at (630) 737-0504.

Olsen Participates on Legislative Panel at Naperville Chamber Event
On Monday I was pleased to participate in a panel discussion at the general membership luncheon for the Naperville Chamber of Commerce. The topic of the day was “What You Need to Know About Legislation and Why it Matters to Your Business.” I was joined on the panel by several area lawmakers, including State Representatives Grant Wehrli, Jeanne Ives, Stephanie Kifowit and Senator Linda Holmes, and Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico and Naperville City Councilman Kevin Coyne. We talked with the local business and community leaders about how they can be engaged and effective stakeholders as legislation affecting their businesses moves through the legislative process in Springfield. 

As your voice in Springfield, I am working tirelessly to make our state and our local communities a great place to live, work and raise a family. I am always interested in speaking to community groups, so if you would like me to speak to an organization within the 81st District, please contact my office at (630) 737-0504, or contact me through the web form located on my web site at www.repolsen.com.

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