Legislative Update: October 29, 2018

Rep. Olsen Serves as “Principal for a Day” at Pierce Downer Elementary School 
Earlier this month I had the unique opportunity to step into the shoes of an elementary school principal and experience a day in the life of a top school administrator in Downers Grove Grade School District 58. I spent the day on October 16 at Pierce Downer Elementary School in Downers Grove, where I talked with students, teachers and support staff. I look forward to participating in the Principal for a Day program every year, as it provides me with a glimpse into the lives that principals and teachers live daily at the schools in the 81st District. In addition to time spent talking with teachers and support staff, I visited four classrooms and talked with 4th, 5th and 6th graders, the Enrichment class and student council about my job as a State Representative and the importance of being an involved citizen. This marked the third consecutive year I have participated in the Illinois Principals’ Association’s Principal for a Day program. 

On Friday morning, I visited with students from the Government Club at Bennet Academy in Lisle. I spoke about my background in politics and the impact young people can have on public policy. We had a great conversation and this group of high school students asked some great questions!

Olsen Recognized for Support of Environment

A few weeks ago I joined a bipartisan group of my House and Senate colleagues at the Illinois Environmental Council’s (IEC) annual leadership dinner, where we were recognized for our efforts in Springfield in 2018 in support of the environment. I was proud to be recognized for earning a 100% rating from the IEC for bills that were supportive of our environment without having a negative impact on Illinois businesses.

In announcing the award winners earlier this fall, IEC Executive Director Jen Walling said, “Representative Olsen voted 100% of the time with the environmental community on several pieces of key legislation this year. The IEC is honored by Representative Olsen’s dedication to Illinois’ environment and we look forward to working together in the future.” Click here to view the full scorecard and the list of scored bills.

Rep. Olsen Sponsors Annual Event to Support of Local Adolescent Support Organization
Earlier this month I was able to sponsor and attend the Navigate Adolescence: Helping Kids and Parents Thrive annual pancake breakfast. This is a wonderful local not-for-profit that is devoted to providing kids and their parents the tools needed to navigate adolescence with confidence, resilience and kindness. Click here to learn more about this outstanding local organization. 

Illinois Unemployment Rate Matches Record Low
The recent 4.1% unemployment figure reported by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) matches the lowest number ever posted for this figure, a widely-cited index of economic health and activity in Illinois. Preliminary data, which is subject to revision as more numbers come in, indicates that nonfarm payroll total employment increased in the Land of Lincoln by 2,800 jobs in September as opposed to August 2018. The same figure, when counted on a year-to-year basis (September 2017 to September 2018) showed a net gain of more than 50,000 nonfarm payroll jobs.

September 2018 job creation was especially strong in education, construction, and manufacturing. The Illinois manufacturing economy created an estimated 2,300 net new jobs in September 2018 alone, and created 14,600 new factory jobs over the past 12 months. It should be noted, however, that the Illinois manufacturing sector is not as dominant as it was in February 1999, the last time our State’s unemployment rate was 4.1%. Illinois’ overall job universe has adjusted over the past two decades. In line with overall worldwide trends towards automation, many Illinois jobs have moved from factories to offices and service-related employment opportunities.

Rep. Olsen Attends Plaque Ceremony for Penner Building in Downers Grove
On October 20, I joined members of the Downers Grove Historical Society as we dedicated a new plaque recognizing the Penner Building in downtown Downers Grove as a historic site. According to the Historical Society, Penner came to America from Germany in the late 1800's. He and his wife lived on Maple Avenue in Downers Grove for over 50 years and raised their five children here. He ran a business on Main Street for 30 years and added his name to the top of this building in about 1920. 

Metropolitan Planning Council Applauds Olsen’s Sponsorship of School District Transparency Law
The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), a Chicago-based organization that partners with businesses, communities and units of government to address the region’s toughest planning and development challenges, highlighted a piece of my legislation this month that improves school district transparency. You can read the MPC article here

SB 3236, now listed in the Illinois State Statutes as Public Act 100-0807, requires the school report cards published annually by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to now include the most current data collected relative to a school district’s administrative costs. The previous law required ISBE to publish data on school report cards regarding student and workforce demographics, financial and curriculum information, and other data such as average class size, a breakdown of students’ racial and ethnic backgrounds, percentage of low-income, special education and limited English proficiency students, operating expenditures, per-pupil state pension contributions and various other data. Beginning with the October 2018 report cards, administrative costs will also be included.

Representative Olsen Supports West Suburban Community Pantry at Annual Event
It’s always a pleasure to support West Suburban Community Pantry and the good work they do to feed the less fortunate in our community. I am shown in this photo with WSCP Board Member Judy Pokorny and her husband Jack Novak their annual Chef's Challenge fundraiser earlier this month. 

State Sells $250 Million in Build Illinois Bonds
Proceeds from the largely tax-free debt offering will be used to finance capital infrastructure investments. No new taxes will be required to pay off the bonds, which will mature in equal stages from 2019 until 2043. The Build Illinois Bond Act sets aside a slice of revenues from existing sales taxes to service the bonds. Prior to using money from its sales taxes for day-to-day operating purposes, the State has pledged to its bondholders that it will use a portion of this sales tax money for long-term capital investment.

Many investors see Illinois sales tax revenues as a relatively secure revenue source, and despite the State’s overall fiscal challenges the bonds were rated several significant notches above the “junk bond” level. S&P Global Ratings rated the new issue at AA-, and Fitch Ratings rated the issue at A-. The bonds were sold to Wall Street investors on Tuesday, October 16. Money from the debt issuance will be used for long-term investments such as roads, bridges, and educational infrastructure.

Olsen Joins Hoffman Estates Mayor at Benefit for Leyden Family Service and SHARE Program
Last week I was pleased to attend an annual dinner at the White Eagle Events & Convention Center in Niles benefitting Leyden Family Service and the SHARE Program. I appreciate the invitation to show my support of this wonderful community organization that provides critical mental health services. I’m shown here with Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod and Leyden Family Service Executive Director Bruce Sewick. 

Big Jump in Illinois ACT Scores
The aggregated Class of 2018 scores by Illinois high school students on the ACT exam, one of America’s Big Two college-prep examinations, showed a dramatic increase in Illinois high schoolers’ performances. The Illinois members of the high school class of 2018 who took the ACT exam prior to graduation scored an average composite score of 23.9 points out of a possible score of 36.0 – a number that soared 2.5 points from the Class of 2017 average of 21.4. The Illinois Class of 2018 also average marked a considerable advance over the national average of 20.8.

The increase, although inspiring, was statistically affected by changes in Illinois high school testing policies that accompanied the altered performance of the Class of 2018. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has instituted statewide policies that encourage school districts to have their high school students take the ACT’s principal competitor, the Standardized Aptitude Test (SAT) exam, and to use aggregated SAT data as a benchmark of overall district-by-district student performance. Illinois high school students are now expected to take the SAT as a universal standardized test, and the SAT test is paid for by the State. In conformity with these expectations and budget policies, the SAT is now administered to almost all Illinois high school juniors except those whose individualized education programs (IEPs) do not include standardized tests.

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