by Karl Kurtz
Gary Olson, former director of the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency and staff chair of NCSL in 2002-03, died last week after a four year battle with melanoma. Gary also served as president of the National Association of Legislative Fiscal Officers.
In recognition of Gary’s outstanding contributions to state fiscal policy and for his dedication to expanding training opportunities and services to legislative staff, he was honored with NCSL's Steven D. Gold award in 2010. “His work and contributions are definitely in the tradition of Steve Gold, who provided assistance to so many legislators and staff, and he is a worthy recipient of this award,” said NCSL Executive Director Bill Pound in a tribute to Gary published in State Legislatures magazine.
The article goes on to note the many similarities between Steve Gold and Gary Olson, including not only their professional ties but also their devotion to the University of Michigan. Now, unfortunately, there is another link between the two. Both died too young: Steve at 52 and Gary at 57.
“Gary has made solid contributions to the professionalization of legislative fiscal staffing during some very difficult budget times in Michigan,” Pound said. Like Steven D. Gold—former director of fiscal studies at NCSL and one of the country’s foremost state fiscal policy experts—Gary also found time to become a leader in the development of legislative staff programs nationally as an officer of NCSL.
Gary has many great friends among legislators and legislative staff around the nation and numerous NCSL staff who learned from him and benefited from his leadership. We miss him. We also send our best wishes to his lovely wife Teresa.
Gary's obituary appeared in the Lansing State-Journal. A more complete remembrance of Gary will be in the next edition of State Legislatures magazine.