CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today attended the Fifth Annual Cuban Festival in Chicago to sign legislation to update state agency data collection policies to reflect Illinois’ increasingly diverse community. The new law will help ensure the state meets the needs of every community and is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to make Illinois the most welcoming state in the nation.
“As the most welcoming state in the nation, we need to ensure that we support every person that lives and works here,” Governor Quinn said. “This legislation updates government practices to reflect our state’s diverse population and best meet the needs of all people in Illinois.”
House Bill 5793, sponsored by State Senator Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) and State Representative Lisa Hernandez (D-Cicero), adds “Hispanic or Latino” as a separate racial or ethnic group in state agency reports and data collection. This brings currently inconsistent state agency data collection practices closer in line with the racial and ethnic classifications used by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Including Latinos as a distinct ethnic group will enable state agencies to compile more accurate data, better identify the needs of Illinois’ Latino population and create or modify services to meet those needs. The law is effective immediately.
"This landmark legislation will provide lawmakers, especially the Illinois Latino Legislative Caucus, the data we need to better advocate for Latinos across every level of state government." Representative Elizabeth Hernandez (D-Cicero) said. "I am very proud to have sponsored HB 5793 and today we say to the Latino communities across the State, 'you are no longer invisible, you matter and you will be represented!'"
"With all state agencies on the same page, able to collect and share data about the quality of services available to residents of all races and ethnicities, we can break down barriers to improvement," State Senator Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) said. "We can take the guesswork out of identifying discrepancies and direct services where they are needed most."
Governor Quinn is a strong supporter of legislation and programs to support the needs of Illinois’ growing Latino population. Governor Quinn worked to enact the Illinois DREAM Act and make Illinois the first state to require bilingual education programs to be available for non-English speaking students beginning in pre-school.
Since the Governor took office, Illinois has seen a surge in the number of Latino-owned businesses – now at 70,000 – and he has also worked to increase the number of state contracts to minority- and women-owned businesses by 60 percent. In addition, he launched a partnership with the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to help more Latino-owned firms better compete for highway construction contracts.
Governor Quinn has made it a goal to make Illinois “The Most Welcoming State” in the nation for people of all races, ethnicities, religions and nationalities. The Governor has long been a strong advocate for immigrants’ rights by working to ensure that everyone takes full advantage of health insurance, job training and foreclosure prevention programs by creating and pushing multilingual awareness campaigns so that no one misses out. He also expanded his Office of New Americans Welcoming Centers as immigrants settle in non-Chicago communities across Illinois.