Julie Kushner

State Senator

Julie Kushner

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working Together for Progress

June 3, 2021

Sen. Kushner Leads Final Approval of Bill to Require Study of Disparities in Connecticut for Minority-Owned Small Business Funding

HARTFORD – State Senator Julie Kushner (D-Danbury) on Wednesday led the Senate’s final approval of legislation requiring a study of disparities in Connecticut among minority-owned small business. This legislation, House Bill 6476, “An Act Concerning A Disparity Study,” would require the Commission on Human Rights to analyze the state’s Supplier Diversity Program, also known as the “Set-Aside Program.” Following the House’s 117-28 vote last week to pass the legislation, the Senate’s vote today moves the bill to Governor Ned Lamont’s desk to be signed into law. Sen. Kushner is Senate Chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee.

“We’re asking the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities to conduct a disparity study regarding Connecticut’s ‘Set Aside’ program, which helps small businesses and women-owned and minority-owned businesses identify opportunities for growth. We need to understand where we’re leveling the playing field here in Connecticut for these businesses and where we need to make improvements, ” said Senator Kushner. “My Democratic colleagues and I have committed ourselves over the past year to addressing the systemic inequities of Connecticut’s economy. This bill is an important next step towards that goal.”

The study in question will investigate disparity specifically concerning the Set-Aside Program, which provides funding and resources to minority-owned small businesses in Connecticut, including businesses owned by women, ethnically diverse individuals and individuals with disabilities. Through the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, the program guarantees state contracting opportunities for qualified and underutilized small businesses. Currently, state agencies provide just 6.25 percent of funds to small businesses, a quarter of the funding distributed in total to small businesses.

Connecticut has not conducted a formal study of disparity for nearly 30 years, and updating such a report will reflect changes in state demographics and state resources in the ensuing years. It is believed that current data no longer provides a full representation of current small contractor underutilization; such a study will provide new data on contractor ownership to better ensure equity.