December 22, 2021

Reps. Watson Coleman, Kim, Sires Call on NJ State Officials to Equitably Distribute Federal Infrastructure Funding

Today, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) and Congressmen Andy Kim (NJ-03) and Albio Sires (NJ-08) sent a letter to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, the NJ Department of Transportation and NJ Transit urging them to distribute funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to underrepresented businesses.

Specifically, the letter asks that state elected officials ensure that Small, Minority, Women or Veteran-owned Business Enterprises (SMWVBE), Disability-owned businesses, and LGBTQ-owned businesses have sufficient funding to be involved in the execution of upcoming infrastructure projects.

The letter reads in part:

Diversity is one of New Jersey’s biggest assets. Our infrastructure investments and workforce should reflect this. This critical investment will improve our state’s infrastructure and position our economy for continued growth by creating more job opportunities. Ensuring underrepresented firms are beneficiaries of this federal investment will promote a more inclusive workforce and a thriving economy for all. Systemic discrimination against women and minority-owned businesses has created barriers to obtaining these contracts and prioritizing these underrepresented populations is an opportunity to help remedy this historic and ongoing discrimination.

Watson Coleman also urged state officials to adequately enforce policies that promote diversity and inclusion in infrastructure modernization. In the letter, the Congresswoman proposed that the NJ Department of Transportation improve its Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program by implementing stronger accountability measures.

The letter concludes:

Governor Murphy has a proven track record building a stronger and fairer New Jersey. It is imperative and aligned with his commitment to equity that the state renews its commitment to centering equity so that this historic federal investment is used to address New Jersey’s most pressing infrastructure needs and workforce disparities. For too long, discrimination and disinvestment have created various inequities which have disproportionally disadvantaged marginalized populations. I look forward to hearing updates on how you plan to prioritize SMWVBE, Disability-owned business enterprises, and LGBTQ-owned business enterprises and increasing accountability measures to ensure resources and opportunities are equitably distributed.    

The letter can be read in its entirety here.