Affirmative-Action Foe Calls Off Repeal Bill for More Study

Published November 11, 1995

SPRINGFIELD–The conservative Republican lawmaker who last spring called for the repeal of affirmative action programs in Illinois now says the matter needs more study.

Sen. Walter Dudycz (R-Chicago) said Friday that he will hold off pushing for passage of his controversial Equal Opportunity Act, which would prohibit the state from granting preferential treatment to anyone on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, gender, or national origin.

Instead, Dudycz said he will call for the creation of a special investigative committee during next week’s legislative session. Dudycz is chairman of a subcommittee that spent the last few months holding hearings on affirmative action around the state.

But what was learned only points to the need for more study, Dudycz said.

In particular, the subcommittee’s studies showed that there are about 700 programs for minority students and staff at colleges and universities around the state. The programs cost an estimated $83 million to run, according to the subcommittee’s report.

Research also showed there are 118 state laws and regulations that grant preference based on race, color, or gender.

“What are those programs, and what do they really cost?” Dudycz said. “These are taxpayer dollars, and we need to know what they are really accomplishing.

The introduction of Dudycz’s bill and the summer hearings fueled a smoldering debate over affirmative action programs. Witnesses flooded the hearing rooms to testify before Dudycz’s panel. Many talked about how affirmative action had helped them.

As Dudycz released his report Friday, results of another state study hinted that the programs have not resulted in dramatic changes in the state government workforce.

For instance, the study showed that the number of minority men employed in state agencies has increased to 9 percent from 8 percent since 1980. The Legislative Research Unit conducted the study at the request of Dudycz’s panel.

Dudycz said he still hopes to do away with affirmative action as it is currently defined, preferring instead what he calls “affirmative opportunity.”

Christi Parsons is a staff writer for the Chicago Tribune. This article appeared in the November 11, 1995 edition.