Stimulus oversight measures advance

TRENTON – State Sen. Ronald L Rice, D-Essex, has sponsored two pieces of legislation with an eye towards ensuring greater government transparency and providing economic fairness for women and minorities, as New Jersey prepares for the receipt of billions of dollars in federal stimulus money.

 “As Chairman of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee and Chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, I fully understand the struggles that those living in the urban community face,” said Sen. Rice. “Although everyone in the country is hurting, those in the cities have had the highest unemployment figures around. The State can help our communities with its redevelopment by simply providing fair opportunities for all residents especially– women and minorities who own business that have not always gotten their fair share.”

The first bill, S-2721, requires the state government to build an entire Web site that would detail contracts being awarded and federal stimulus moneys being spent on transportation infrastructure, providing transparency and accountability.

The site would be comprehensive, accounting for every penny of taxpayers money while publishing information on the percentage of women and minority business owners and contractors taking part in the infrastructure work.

“The State, local government, civil rights groups and union leaders must all work closely together to make sure that the funding provided by the federal stimulus programs are properly distributed,” said Sen. Rice. “This Web site will show any disparity in awarding this stimulus money. ”

The second piece of legislation, bill S-2730, contains language that mandates the provision of funding for outreach and training programs for minority and women’s groups by governmental entities, widening the reach and effect of the federal stimulus funding.

Both bills have been sent to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

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