Adrienne Olejnik (D-Kansas House District 51)

Bio:

  • Washburn University. BBAs in Finance and Management
  • Former Certified Fraud Examiner
  • Library Director, Rossville Community Library- 2010 to present
  • Compliance Analyst, Security Benefit- 2007-2010
  • Compliance Officer, Kansas State Gaming Agency- 2007
  • Internal Audit Manager/Gaming Inspector, Prairie Band Gaming Commission- 2005-2007
  • Rossville City Council- 2015 to present
  • Shawnee County Extension Program Development Committee, Economic Development- 2015 to present
  • Board member, Rossville Community Foundation
  • Co-Chair, Planning Committee, Greater Topeka Chamber- Leadership Greater Topeka Program
  • Member, Topeka South Rotary
  • Member, P.E.O. Chapter HX
  • Former board member, Kansas Action for Children
  • Recipient of Jayhawk Area Council’s Topeka’s Top 20 Under 40 Award in 2016

Personal:

I’ve been married nine years to Neil Olejnik from Rossville. Neil is an electrician with DL Smith in Topeka. We have two daughters, Grace (age 7) and Reese (age 4). I grew up in Topeka but have lived in Rossville for the past ten years.

What is your plan to deal with the Kansas Budget?

The 2012 and subsequent tax changes significantly affected the amount of revenue that Kansas has been able to raise. The Brownback administration and like-minded legislators like to point to a sluggish economy and oil, gas, aviation, and agriculture as the culprits for our revenue problems, but these are not to be blamed for the position we are in today. We’ve got to reevaluate our tax structure and get back to a healthy balance of income, sales, and property tax. Our income tax structure has to be changed to bring back exempt businesses to the tax rolls. We’ve also got to examine the individual income tax rates and brackets and not further burden those in the lower brackets but make sure that we have adequate state resources to meet the critical needs of our state. After revenue reform has taken place and we are starting to recover, which will take time, I hope to advocate for a lower sales tax, especially on food. If we can also do a bet ter job of working with municipalities and counties perhaps we can find ways to address property tax challenges in the future as well.

What kind of changes do you support in rewriting the school funding formula? Do you support additional funding for Kansas schools?

The formula prior to the implementation of the block grants recognized that school funding is complex if we are truly to offer the equal opportunity to quality education across the state in a wide variety of communities. A new formula is most likely to be similar to the last one and is an opportunity to address the concerns of key stakeholders like school boards and parents. I also think the state should do more in regard to early childhood education—money spent there is a wise investment not only in the individual child’s future, but will make our educational achievement less costly and attain better results down the road. We should also fund all-day kindergarten.

Any new formula should ensure the equity and adequacy pieces of the Kansas Constitution are met and that we are responsive to changes in the landscape of Kansas in the years to come. I hope that the State can get the finance part settled so we can focus on what matters most—making sure Kansas has the best public school system possible to groom future Kansans to be good citizens.

What is your number one priority for the upcoming legislative session and how do you plan to address it?

The number one priority for the legislature in 2017 should be addressing our tax system and revenue problems in the State. Everything else hinges on that. If we want to have a strong public education system, good roads and safe bridges, and provided much-needed services to kids, seniors, and those with mental and physical health challenges, we need a fair and stable revenue stream. We have got to work across the aisle together on these tough challenges realizing compromise and good ideas from all parties are critical to making progress. The damage to our state from failed policy will take years to repair, but we must begin as soon as possible.

WEBSITE | Adrienne for Kansas

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