Rice/Turner Bill Would Shore Up Budget Funds For Minorities And Women In Construction And Engineering

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Ronald L. Rice and Shirley K. Turner, which would set aside five percent of all funds generated from local and State public construction contracts of $1 million or more for women and minority construction and engineering contracts, was approved today by the full Senate by a vote of 27 to 13.

The funding formula was established through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“This bill would put New Jersey in compliance with two existing laws that already set aside funding for training and outreach programs to help minorities and women who are involved or are looking to get involved in construction and engineering,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “We are not imposing a new tax or creating a new appropriation, but rather making sure that already-set-aside funds are put toward helping women and minorities in construction and engineering, while also setting up a system of checks and balances to ensure that the funds are used as they should be.”

“As a college administrator, I understand how important training and apprenticeship programs are to skill development,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “Through this bill, we are ensuring that the funds are set aside for the groups that are statutorily entitled to them, while making sure that the oversight is put in place to see that the funds continue to go where they should. These funds have been set aside because the federal government saw a need, and they cannot be used for areas other than their intended purpose.”

The Senators’ bills, S-2137, would also call upon the Department of the Treasury’s Division of Public Contracts Equal Employment Opportunity Compliance to determine that the funding is being used to provide the training programs for minorities and women. The Division of Purchase and Property would also be responsible for determining whether or not minorities and women are being offered fair opportunities for employment on State contracts.

The Senators noted that the laws being implemented were supported by the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus.

This measure now heads to the Assembly for approval. #

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