Solving Racial Issues in Our Own Backyard

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“When elected officials consciously consider racial impacts during the lawmaking and budget-setting processes,” says Tammy Johnson of Applied Research Center, “they have the opportunity to eliminate existing racial disparities and prevent unintended consequences.”

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Racing the Statehouse: Advancing Equitable Policies

President Obama’s creation of the Council of Governors ahead of this weekend’s National Governors Association meeting rightly recognizes states’ key role in shaping national policy. Governors and state lawmakers are often responsible for improving social and economic outcomes. States are making progress toward addressing racial disparities, as found in Applied Research Center’s “Racing the Statehouse: Advancing Equitable Policies,” being released today. Download the report at http://www.arc.org/reportcards.

“Racing the Statehouse” highlights the growing trend of advocates across the country undertaking state-level reviews to hold legislators and governors accountable on addressing racial equity. The report summarizes key findings from a series of eight reviews by statewide policy organizations. These state-level report cards, budget reviews and progress reports represent a comprehensive analysis of the racial impact of hundreds of legislative and budgetary measures.

Many viable policy solutions to racial inequity are available when state lawmakers consciously consider racial impact. Most states have recently proposed or passed some measures deemed to close or eliminate racial disparities in areas such as public education and criminal justice. At the same time, most states also proposed or approved some measures likely to have a negative racial impact by creating or contributing to further inequality and exclusion for different racial groups.

“When elected officials consciously consider racial impacts during the lawmaking and budget-setting processes,” says Tammy Johnson of Applied Research Center, “they have the opportunity to eliminate existing racial disparities and prevent unintended consequences.”

“Racing the Statehouse” lifts up the research of a variety of policy organizations in California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, New York and Washington.

"Recently Minnesota lawmakers have made progress in advancing racial equity in green jobs and criminal justice," says Jermaine Toney of Organizing Apprenticeship Project. "But much of that was reversed by the governor’s cuts to programs critical for communities of color and low-income families. The new frontier of racial equity requires elected leaders to integrate equity as a core element in budget decisions.”

"The Racial Equity scorecards put a legislative body on notice that advocates are on the lookout for conscious legislation aimed at bettering society as a whole, not just those with the resources to lobby," says Art Way of Colorado Progressive Coalition.

Experts who can speak to sections of “Racing the Statehouse: Advancing Equitable Policies” include national report author Tammy Johnson of Applied Research Center and state-wide report authors Bob Cohen of Citizen Action of New York and Maru Mora-Villalpando of Washington Community Action Network.

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