CHICAGO- Delivering on his commitment to provide increased access to state employment for Illinois’ fastest growing minority, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed into law a bill that will help state agencies increase hiring among the Hispanic community at supervisory, technical, professional and managerial levels.
Senate Bill 2043, which becomes effective January 1, 2006 provides that each state agency’s annual report include a description of the agency’s Hispanic and bilingual employment plan; requires that state agencies implement specific strategies to increase the number of Hispanic and bilingual hires; and mandates the Department of Central Management Services (CMS) to annually submit to the General Assembly a report on the statewide Hispanic employment plan.
“Hispanics are the fastest growing group in Illinois. As we recognize their contributions to the state’s economy and diversity, we need to make sure they have increased access to jobs in state government,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “This bill provides us with the tools to strengthen our commitment to increase diversity in this administration. I’m glad to work with the General Assembly’s Latino Caucus to continue empowering Hispanics in Illinois.”
SB 2043 was the result of an agreed process among the Office of the Governor, the Legislature’s Latino Caucus and several state agencies. The legislation clarifies the state agencies’ role and responsibilities with regards to the State’s Hispanic employment plan and will help standardize Illinois’ Hispanic hiring efforts.
“With the growing number of Hispanics in Illinois, it’s critical for the state government to fill more positions with people who can speak Spanish fluently. This bill will allow the State to be more efficient in delivering state services to Hispanics, and I thank the Governor for signing into law,” said Sen. Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago), the bill’s chief sponsor in the Senate.
Hispanics are 13 percent of the state’s population and constitute its fastest growing minority. The Hispanic population has grown over 70 percent in the state since 1990, according to the most recent U.S. Bureau of the Census estimates, and in the Chicago area it has grown over 80 percent in the same period. According to the same estimates, Hispanics represent four-fifths of the total population growth in the Chicagoland area since 2000.
Hispanics in Illinois have a purchasing power of nearly $26 billion, and are the owners of more than 67,000 businesses in the state.
“Our state has one of the highest Hispanic populations in the country, and yet we continue to be under represented in state government,” said Rep. Edward J. Acevedo (D-Chicago), the bills’ chief sponsor in the House of Representatives. “We must give Hispanics a chance to participate in higher paying, skilled jobs, and provide them with the same opportunities as other minority groups. This legislation will force us to look at the actual numbers and make improvements where they are necessary.”
Currently, some 1,900 Hispanics are part of the state’s payroll, which represents 3.45 % of the total number of state employees, the highest percentage of Hispanics ever to serve in state government. The percentage of the state’s Hispanic employees has kept increasing, in spite of a reduction of 11,300 employees in the state payroll since Gov. Blagojevich took office.
Additionally, Gov. Blagojevich has appointed over 60 Hispanics to high-level positions on his cabinet, state agencies, state boards and commissions, where they make key decisions on education, commerce, finance, economic opportunity, fiscal policy, public health, human services and social policies.
“Governor Blagojevich is committed to helping Hispanics gain leadership roles in Illinois. Whether by partnering with Hispanic-owned businesses, or increasing bilingual and Hispanic hires in state government, Gov. Blagojevich’s administration is taking giant strides to make sure Hispanics play a protagonist role in the state’s future, and I commend him for signing legislation that will enhance his commitment,” said Juan Ochoa, president of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
“The Hispanic community continues to grow in Illinois and it’s increasingly important that they have access to employment opportunities in state government. Governor Blagojevich knows this is a priority and today he is taking important steps to ensure that state agencies meet his vision of Illinois government providing opportunities for all,” said CMS acting Director Paul Campbell. “Agencies will hire more Hispanics and Spanish-speaking employees as a result of this legislation, which will ultimately allow the state to more efficiently and effectively administer its services.”
Since 2003, Governor Blagojevich has taken executive and legislative action to help and empower Hispanics, by:
- Increasing funding for the state’s schools by more than $2.3 billion, including over $330 million for FY06, more than former Governors Ryan and Edgar did in the first three years of their terms;
- Increasing preschool funding by $90 million since 2003, including $30 million for the next fiscal year, which means 25,000 more children will get into public, quality preschool programs;
- Adding over 313,000 working families and children to the FamilyCare and KidCare programs. Among other things, this expansion will allow thousands of Hispanic women to get free breast and cervical cancer screenings, and will help reduce teen pregnancies through the Illinois Healthy Women program.
- Raising the minimum wage to $6.50 an hour and enacting Equal Pay to effectively reduce the gender wage gap.
- Signing landmark legislation to reform the workers’ compensation system in Illinois.
- Signing into law a bill that makes Illinois the most aggressive state in the nation in regards to protecting day laborers and going after unlawful day and temporary labor agencies that cheat workers of their hard-earned pay and leave them unprotected at work. The Governor has also signed legislation to enhance a workers’ right to picket, make sure construction workers get paid the prevailing wage they’re entitled to, and give hotel attendants much-needed breaks.
- Working with unions, advocate organizations, businesses and legislators to develop a comprehensive plan to protect Latino workers from work-related injuries.
- Working with the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce to develop a small business health insurance plan that will greatly help businesses save money while affording coverage to their employees.
A significant number of Hispanics in Illinois are also immigrants. The Governor has made protecting immigrants and helping them become acclimated to their adopted country one of his main priorities, by:
- Launching the New Americans Initiative aimed at helping thousands of eligible permanent residents become naturalized U.S. citizens.
- Signing legislation that recognizes consular I.D. cards as valid forms of identification in Illinois, similar to a Secretary of State-issued state I.D.
- Signing into law a bill that allows for undocumented immigrants to attend public universities in Illinois paying in-state tuition rates.
- Signing into law a bill that protects immigrants from abuse by unlawful notary publics who misrepresent themselves as immigration lawyers and charge excessive fees for their services.
- Ordering the Illinois State Board of Education to implement a rule change, allowing the children of undocumented immigrants to attend public preschools.
Standing up for 18 immigrant families at risk of being separated by deportation, by writing letters to President George W. Bush and asking that those removals be rescinded.