Monday, March 30, 2009
State Representative Jake Wheatley, who represents about 15 Pittsburgh neighborhoods, recently passed legislation establishing a select committee to review the issuance of all state contracts from the years 2000 to 2008. The committee, which will be composed of 4 House Democrats and 3 Republicans, will review the amount of state contracts awarded to minority-, women-, and disadvantaged-owned businesses. Wheatley says prior to the Rendell administration, women and minority-owned businesses received less than one percent of all state contracts. Since Rendell took office in 2003, that number has reached as high as twelve percent and settled around five to six percent. Wheatley says he's happy with this improvement but would like to see more, especially here in the western half of the state where minority- and women-owned businesses receive less than one percent of all state contracting in the region. The select committee will also review ways to increase state contracting to women- and minority-owned businesses. A report from the committee is scheduled in six months. Wheatley says it's a crucial time to review state contracting practices, especially since billions of dollars in stimulus money will be flowing into the state. Local minority- and women-owned businesses are encouraged to contact Wheatley's office to testify before the select committee about their experiences with state contracting.