TRENTON – The Joint Committee on Economic Justice and Equal Employment Opportunity has been reconstituted and empowered to find ways to provide fair opportunities for minorities and low-income communities, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said today.
The committee is authorized to conduct a continuing study of issues concerning economic justice and equal employment, including public hearings, and to recommend reforms and remedies.
The 10-member committee, consisting of legislators from the Senate and Assembly, was created by the Legislature in 2014, reconstituted in 2018 and again in 2020.
Senate President Sweeney named to the panel Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Senator Ron Rice, Senator Nellie Pou, Senator Shirley Turner and Senator Chris Brown, who was nominated by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean, Jr.
Assembly Speaker Coughlin reappointed Assembly members Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, Gabriela Mosquera, Britnee Timberlake, Benjie Wimberly and Holly Schepisi, who was nominated by Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick.
“We need to aggressively address the social and economic disparities that continue to put minorities and low-income communities at a disadvantage,” said Senator Sweeney. “The committee will conduct public hearings to get input from the businesses and individuals who are trying to break through the barriers that make it hard to get a fair shot at public-sector business. This should include opportunities with the State Division of Investment. Minority-owned firms deserve a fair opportunity to participate in managing state investments.”
“The joint committee will be tasked with addressing the critical issue of ensuring minorities and women in New Jersey are afforded the same opportunities as their white counterparts,” said Speaker Coughlin. “This is particularly important with many people returning to the workforce as we continue to recover from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Young people, women and Black and Latino residents are disproportionately suffering from the current economic crisis. The joint committee will do everything within its means to provide economic and social fairness going forward.”
According to the Legal Services of New Jersey Poverty Research Institute, poverty levels in New Jersey remain at stubbornly high levels, especially among minority and low-income communities. About 10.4 percent of the total population was living in true or actual poverty in 2015, and almost a third of New Jersey residents were below 250 percent of the federal poverty line. New Jersey now ranks third in the nation with respect to long-term unemployment.