There Is Still Work To Be Done On MWBE Legislation

It’s nice that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation expanding and extending the state’s Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises program.

It would been even nicer if the state made sure the program worked the way it should in the first place.

Two Republicans who spoke on the floor of the state Assembly earlier this year had been approached by female business owners who have been turned away from the program or, after months of trying to meet the requests of state administrators simply gave up. In the case of Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, R-Ballston, MWBE certification and the accompanying state contracts it brings could have made a big difference for the business in question. Instead, she was ultimately denied after two years of working on her application.

Five years ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo set a goal to have 30% of state contracts awarded to minority and women-owned business enterprises. The state has struggled to meet that target, and it’s no wonder after hearing Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, and Walsh tell stories of woman-owned businesses struggling to attain certification. That’s why almost 94 percent of waivers from contractors asking for an exemption to the 30% set-aside are granted — nothing would get done if the waivers weren’t granted or if contractors weren’t finding ways to work around the system.

The goal of making sure minority and women-owned businesses are getting their fair share of state contracts is laudable. We’re not sure if the legislation that Cuomo signed meets that worthy goal, however, if there aren’t enough minority or women-owned businesses to give the work to in the first place.

The state Legislature may have passed new legislation and Cuomo may have affixed his signature to it, but more work needs to be done on this matter.