Legislative Update: July 24, 2017

Legislators to Return to Springfield for School Funding Battle
Illinois lawmakers will return to the Capitol this week on Wednesday for a special session dedicated to addressing the upcoming year’s state funding for schools. Governor Bruce Rauner called the special session Monday afternoon, after Senate Democrats missed a noon deadline to send their approved school funding bill, SB 01, to the Governor for final action.

Coming into the new General Assembly in January, there was widespread consensus that the existing school funding formula needed to be fundamentally changed. A bipartisan Education Funding Task Force studied the issue during the spring legislative session and ultimately determined that an evidence-based formula would be more equitable and fair for Illinois schools. 

SB 01 was approved in May, but Senate Democrats used a procedural move to keep the bill from advancing to the Governor’s desk. The Governor has been vocal with his plan to issue an amendatory veto to the bill to remove what he considers to be a large bailout for Chicago Public Schools (CPS). If SB 01 becomes law, a large portion of funds would be channeled directly to CPS rather than through the new formula. As written, an additional $778 million would be invested in K-12 education for the 2017-2018 school year. CPS would receive $495 million of those new funds. That represents 64% of all new education money even though CPS houses only 19% of the State’s students. If the evidence-based model is the agreed choice for equity in school funding, why would the formula be skewed right out of the gates so it favors CPS?

House and Senate Republicans introduced a better proposal this year that would have ensured that every school district in Illinois was treated equally under the new formula. HB 4069, also filed in the Senate as SB 1124, included no special deals for CPS. This chart shows how that plan compares to SB 01. Unfortunately, both Republican bills were not allowed to advance to the floor for a vote.

John Curran of Downers Grove Chosen to Fill Remainder of Radogno Senate Term
On Saturday, the 41st District Appointment Committee selected John Curran of Downers Grove to fill the remainder of former State Senator Christine Radogno’s term in the Illinois General Assembly. Curran is a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney and has served on the DuPage County Board since 2008. He previously also served as a Trustee for the Village of Woodridge. John has an exceptional record of public service, and I am confident that we will be able to work collaboratively to effectively serve and represent our shared constituents. Details of the swearing in ceremony for John Curran have not yet been announced.

Olsen Delivers Local Concerns about PARCC Testing to Illinois State Board of Education
Last week I sent a letter to Dr. Tony Smith, State Superintendent of Education and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) sharing concerns and feedback I received from 81st District school administrators, educators and parents about the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam. ISBE is in the process of developing a request for proposals for an assessment tool to be used when the PARCC contract expires in 2019.

Some parents have opted out of having their children take the current PARCC exam. Parents have opted out for many reasons including concerns about the design of the assessment tool, limited or no educational value or relevance for students and teachers, or student privacy and data mining concerns. My letter offered ISBE a summary of the comments received from meetings with constituents in the past few weeks. In seeking a new assessment tool, I urged ISBE to ensure that it is relevant for students, useful for teachers and educators, and that it provides opportunities for reduction of testing and cost savings. You can read the letter here.

Olsen Selected for Service on Community Care Program Services Task Force
Last week I learned that I will be one of two House Republicans who will participate on a new task force that will review community care program services for Illinois seniors and help develop strategies to reduce program costs while not diminishing the quality of care seniors receive. The task force, which will be chaired by the State’s Director of Aging or a designee from that office, will be charged with the following:
  • Review the current services provided to seniors in the program
  • Review potential savings associated with alternative services to seniors
  • Review effective care models for the growing senior population in Illinois 
  • Review current federal Medicaid matching funds for services provided and ways to maximize federal support for the current services
  • Make recommendations to contain costs and better tailor services to Community Care Program participants’ specific needs
  • Review different services available to help keep seniors out of nursing homes
  • Review best practices used in other states for maintaining seniors in home and community-based settings including providing services to non-Medicaid eligible seniors
As a group we will meet at least four times and hold public hearings as is deemed necessary. Our task force findings and recommendations will be presented to the Governor and General Assembly before the end of January, 2018.

Olsen Visits New CILA Home in Naperville
Late last week I joined State Representative Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) for a tour of a new Community Integrated Living Arrangement (CILA) home in Naperville operated by UCP Seguin. We also had an opportunity to meet and talk with some of the facility’s residents and staff. The home provides care for women with developmental disabilities from DuPage County, and the Naperville home is one of 75 such homes run by UCP Seguin in 29 communities around the Greater Chicago area. Earlier in the month I also had an opportunity to celebrate the opening of a new UCP Seguin center in Villa Park. Thanks to CEO John Voit for inviting us and for all the work UCP Seguin does to support individuals with developmental disabilities.

Rep. Olsen to Host Mobile Office Hours on July 27
My mobile office hours tour continues this month with a Thursday, July 27 event scheduled at the Downers Grove Recreation Center, 4500 Belmont Road, in Downers Grove. My staff will have a table set up at the center from 8:30 until 10:30 AM. The public is invited to stop by to discuss legislative issues and to learn about the services offered through my legislative office. No appointment is needed. Future mobile office hours dates and locations will be posted on my web site at www.repolsen.com.

Olsen Supports Family Shelter Service at Annual Event
I had a wonderful time last week supporting Family Shelter Service at their Young Professionals Trivia Night. I am proud to serve on the Advisory Board for the great organization which supports victims of domestic violence. You can learn more about this incredibly important community organization by visiting their web site at www.familyshelterservice.org

Cooling Stations are Ready to Help Illinois Residents Battle the Summer Heat
As part of Illinois' Keep Cool Illinois campaign, over 120 state facilities are now available as cooling centers. The cooling centers will provide Illinoisans a place to stay cool and comfortable during hot summer days. The following locations offer free cooling centers for Illinoisans:
  • Tollway Oasis locations are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 
  • Department of Human Services cooling centers are open during normal business hours from 8:30AM - 5:00PM, Monday through Friday.
Click here to find a cooling station near you. For more information about DHS Cooling Centers, please call the Illinois Department of Human Services hotline at (800) 843-6154 during normal business hours.

Olsen Congratulates New Eagle Scouts
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend an Eagle Scout Court of Honor for three new Troop 97 Eagle Scouts - Max Gregor, Daniel O'Connor, and Tony Kollarik. The Eagle Court of Honor took place at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Darien. Congratulations to all three of these fine young men on this wonderful accomplishment!

Amazon Plans Chicago-Area Sort Center With up to 500 Jobs
Crain’s Chicago Business reported last week that Amazon is opening a Chicago-area sort center, its first Illinois hub for smaller packages, where it plans to employ 250 to 500 workers. The newest facility has a launch scheduled for October in southwest suburban Crest Hill. It's the latest flag planted here since 2015 by the e-commerce monolith, whose projected local employment is heading toward around 8,000. The 29-acre site is north of Joliet, less than 2 miles from an Interstate 55 interchange and less than 10 miles from Interstate 80, according to Atlanta-based developer Ridgeline Property Group. The property is also near Amazon fulfillment centers in Joliet and Romeoville, and others opening this year in Aurora and Monee.

Free Summer & Fall Events Continue in 81st District
Thank you to everyone who came out for my Shredding & Sharing event on July 15 in Downers Grove. During the three-hour event, approximately 250 cars flowed through the parking lot of Sharing Connections. In addition to 8,000 pounds of documents delivered for shredding, community members filled ten large bins with new or gently-used home goods, clothing and cleaning products for Sharing Connections, a local non-profit that provides assistance to families in crisis. Many large pieces of kitchen, living room and bedroom furniture were also donated.

Mark your calendars for these additional upcoming events that are free and open to those who live in the 81st District:
Jobs Fair: Wednesday, August 9, 9:00 AM until 12:30 PM, CORE Fitness Center, 6028 W 127th St, Lemont
  • Understanding & Appealing Your Property Tax Bill: Saturday, September 9, 10:00 AM until 12:00 noon, Downers Grove Public Library, 1050 Curtiss St, Downers Grove
  • Veterans Resource Fair: Saturday, November 4, 9:00 AM until 12:00 noon, American Legion Post 80, 4000 Saratoga Ave, Downers Grove

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