Minnesota Legislature and Governor Share a "D" in latest Report Card on Racial Equity

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For Immediate Release:

January 29, 2008

Contact:
Beth Newkirk 612-746-4224 or Steven Renderos 651-399-4227  

Legislature and Governor Share a “D” in latest Report Card on Racial Equity

Minneapolis, MN—The Organizing Apprenticeship Project (OAP) is releasing the 2nd Minnesota Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity today. The report grades the Governor and the Legislature on their leadership to address the growing racial disparities facing Minnesota’s communities of color.

With the legislature and the Governor sharing an overall grade of “D”, the report finds that the legislature has made progress but is still not making the grade in leadership for racial equity.

“There is a glaring racial fault line in this state – and it is growing wider,” says Jermaine Toney, policy analyst at the Organizing Apprenticeship Project and the report’s author. “It is important that state leaders are building policies specifically addressing disparities that impact Minnesotans of color.”

Report Highlights
•    Legislature and Governor share a “D” grade. Overall, the legislature passed and Governor signed 62% of the bills studied, a significant increase from a year ago in which only 37% of the bills studied were passed and signed into law.
•    There were 65 legislators listed on the honor roll and honorable mention list.  This list more than doubled since last year’s report card where only 26 were mentioned.
•    100% of the bills that addressed American Indian Tribal Sovereignty were passed into law.

Missed Opportunities
•    Teacher Diversity Loan Program: Students of color make up approximately 24% of the K-12 population yet teachers of color make up only 3 percent of the teacher population.  This bill would have helped to recruit and train teachers of color to work within Minnesota’s rapidly diversifying schools.
•    Reducing Structural Barriers to Voting: The Government Accountability Office has continued to report that populations of color and American Indians are far more likely to be subject to unlawful barriers to vote. This bill would have required those who renew or complete an application for a driver’s license or state identification card in Minnesota to be automatically registered to vote, unless they are not eligible to vote or decline to be registered.
•    Reclaiming Our Children From Detention: Youth of color and American Indian youth comprise 17% of 10 to 17-year-olds yet account for 35% of juvenile arrests in Minnesota.  This bill would have initiated a progressive pilot project in Ramsey County to assess the root causes of unequal arrests and would have explored detention alternatives.   

Minnesota is on the verge of a racial inequity crisis as these disparities.  American Indians and African Americans are three times more likely to live near or below poverty, even in good economic times.  While only 5.9% of white Minnesotans lack health insurance, Latinos have an un-insurance rate of 6 times higher than whites, American Indian 4 times higher than whites, and African Americans 2 times higher than whites.  Minnesota is a leader in the nation for high end jobs, workers of color; however, are concentrated in lower wage jobs.

“This report challenges lawmakers to have a serious and constructive conversation about race,” says Rep. Jim Davnie (D-Minneapolis.) “This is essential if we want to live in a Minnesota which draws on the successes of the past, acknowledges the challenges of the present and builds towards prosperity in the future.”   
 
The Minnesota Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity 2007 is the follow-up to the Minnesota Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity 2005/2006, both issued by the Organizing Apprenticeship Project.

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The Organizing Apprenticeship Project advances a community based movement to achieve racial, cultural, social and economic justice across Minnesota.
 
Click here to read OAP's Executive Summary of the Minnesota Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity 2007.
 
Click here to OAP's editorial story regarding the Minnesota Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity 2007.