Black Caucus Members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus held a press conference to highlight how the percent of state business going to minority contractors has fallen significantly under Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood), who also chairs the joint Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, said: “For Rauner to act like he’s been a champion for our community after the last three years is appalling. Bruce Rauner talks about improving opportunities for minority-owned businesses, but the numbers tell a different story. Under Bruce Rauner’s administration, minority contracting requirements have been waived and the percent of state business going to minority businesses has actually plummeted.”

Records show that in January 2015, Gov. Rauner announced an executive order studying barriers in contracting for minority businesses. Then, in November 2015, the Rauner administration secretly waived minority participation requirements for a $94 million state contract.

Three years later, Gov. Rauner discussed another Executive Order to address these same issues. Members of the Senate and House said they felt this was a political move on the governor’s part.

“Rep. Will Davis and I have been working together on these issues for several years,” said State Senator Mattie Hunter (D- Chicago) “And, I can’t help but to question the governor’s intention on signing yet another Executive Order. In 2016, we established the Fair Practices in Contracting Task Force. Here we are two years later, conveniently when the governor’s running for re-election, he signs another order to address the same disparities—I’m tired of the political games.”

“I would recommend that the governor conduct an audit as well as look at his administration and why these laws are not being enforced. Governor Rauner has already signed several pieces of legislation involving the improvement of minority contracting; however, there’s been no change as it relates to the numbers of minority suppliers and businesses receiving opportunities during his administration,” said Senator James F. Clayborne, Jr. (D- Belleville).

“We know today that there will be some conversation about moving procurement forward, and that’s great, but don’t be fooled that we haven’t been trying to do so up to this point,” Said Rep. Will Davis (D-Chicago) “One of the biggest impediments of moving procurement for minorities forward has been agency directors not enforcing anything that we pass.”

Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago) said, “I appreciate the governor recognizing that African American contracting is abysmally low, however, I question his true motives when we have witnessed the actions that have been taken over the entirety of the Rauner Administration.”

Rep. Al Riley (D-Olympia Fields) echoed, “We’ve worked at these initiatives for a long time and we don’t see anything happening. It is sort of a dark irony that right now the governor is going around to certain communities, especially communities of color, telling them about the opportunities that exist and how they should do business with the state— it’s ridiculous and frankly a slap in the face.”       

Lawmakers invited Gov. Rauner to sit down to discuss new ways to bring stability to the communities they serve. The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus remains dedicated to driving bipartisan cooperation as the state seeks to transform procurement opportunities for minority communities.