Where are workers of color unemployed at over 2.5 times the rate of white workers? Where are households of color living in poverty more than three times the rate of white households? Where are the median full-time weekly earnings for women only 84 percent of men’s?
This session, the Senate Subcommittee on Equity has put together a clear proposal to help tackle the disparities in economic opportunity that plague our state. Their proposal includes one-time funding totaling $91 million in FY 2017 to expand opportunity so that it is available to Minnesotans regardless of their race, gender, or where they live.
Two-thirds of the bill is dedicated to employment and economic development, including:
- $9.4 million in grants for the Latino, Somali, Southeast Asian, and American Indian communities to address educational, employment, and workforce disparities, and to support youth;
- $8 million for a Minnesota Youth at Work grant program to connect at-risk youth with training opportunities, targeted toward youth of color and others who face barriers in the job market;
- $5.1 million for Pathways to Prosperity, which provides job training and education for high-demand jobs; and
- $1.5 million to promote high-wage, high-demand, nontraditional jobs for women.
The Senate’s equity proposal also includes increased funding for Adult Basic Education, access to healthy foods through the newly established Good Food Access Program, as well as down-payment and closing cost assistance to help narrow the homeownership rate gap between white households and households of color.
Governor Mark Dayton emphasized the equity conversation among policymakers in his State of the State address and by allocating $100 million in total for several equity proposals in his budget proposal. The Senate follows suit in striving to making economic opportunity available to more Minnesotans, and beginning to shrink the state’s economic disparities.