Sweeney, Singleton: A government department is needed to promote diversity and equity in state government
Senators are also pushing legislation requiring the NJ’s investment division to expand pool to include “under-represented” investment advisers
TRENTON – Senate Speaker Steve Sweeney and Senator Troy Singleton push for the creation of a State Department for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, saying only a Cabinet-level agency would have the leverage to break institutional barriers within state government that exclude underrepresented populations from real economic opportunity.
“Despite the best of intentions, it is clear that past efforts to promote equity for people of color and others who have been denied equal economic opportunity have failed miserably,” said Senator Sweeney (D -Gloucester / Salem / Cumberland). “Only a Cabinet-level agency can ensure that the New Jersey State Government sets an example as a model of diversity, equity and inclusion for other employers. Our diversity is our strength and we must build on it. “
Senators Sweeney and Singleton said the introduction of their Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion legislation, as well as companion legislation requiring the Investment Division of the State diversifies its pool of investment advisers, set a milestone to be reached by the new legislature.
“This proposal confirms the idea that promoting fairness and equal opportunity is a responsibility of our government,” said Senator Singleton, who will be part of the Senate leadership as majority whip during the next session. “This legislation calls both attention and intention to this ideal by taking our ambitious words of inclusion and transforming it into a State Department focused on making those words a reality.” This will allow our state to have a workforce that is truly representative of the diverse mosaic of our state’s population. “
Reverend Dr. David Jefferson, Sr. Esq., Pastor of the historic Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark and State Chairman of the National Action Network, who worked on developing the proposals, praised the two measures .
“Social justice cannot be fully realized without economic justice,” said Pastor Jefferson. “The government has a moral responsibility to lead the way in providing equal opportunities for all. We must work to remove the barriers to economic equality that have blocked the way for communities of color for too long. These are steps in the right direction that we must pursue with a continued commitment to progress. For too long, New Jersey has lacked the leadership to provide economic empowerment for everyone, not just a few. “
The first bill, S-4302, would establish the Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and would require the development of both state-government-wide and specific strategic plans. to each agency to address diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in the state. Existing government units with responsibilities in these areas would be transferred to the new department.
The commissioner of the new Ministry of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion would be responsible for the following tasks and functions:
- advice and assistance on the efforts of the Director of the Treasury Department’s Investments Division to use under-represented financial firms to provide brokerage and investment management services;
- advice and assistance on diversity, equity and inclusion in the investments of the State and its political subdivisions, in the allocation of loans and grants for the creation of enterprises, and in the granting of loans low interest rates and homeowner support; and
- advice and assistance on diversity, equity and inclusion in public procurement of the state and its political subdivisions.
Currently, 16 states have implemented policies considered relevant to the state as a model employer, including states as diverse as Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, and Vermont. .
The second bill, S-4303, also sponsored by Senators Sweeney and Singleton, would require the Treasury Department’s Investments Division to make more concerted efforts to use under-represented financial institutions to provide brokerage and brokerage services. management of government investments.
“I am confident that under the leadership of Senator Singleton these bills will become law in the next legislative session,” said Senator Sweeney.
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