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The latest news from every corner of the state, including policy emerging from Missouri's capitol.

New Report Reveals High Economic Risk of Anti-DEI Laws In Missouri

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Missouri's Senate Bill 1314, similar to House Bill 2365, prohibits funds from being expended by any state department for interdepartmental programs, staffing or other initiatives associated with "diversity, equity and inclusion" or "diversity, inclusion, and belonging," with certain exceptions.

A new report finds some Missouri laws and prospective laws are perceived as discriminatory regardless of their actual intent - and it outlines some big, negative economic implications for the state.

When events are scheduled in places with policies that are considered non-inclusive or discriminatory, that place is often assumed to support these initiatives.

Dr. M. Ray Perryman, founder, and CEO of The Perryman Group, who conducted the independent analysis, said some potential visitors will choose to go elsewhere rather than support places they think are less open to diversity and equity. He said this avoidance risks millions for the Missouri economy.

"Travel and tourism losses in Missouri and Kansas could total hundreds of millions of dollars per year," he said, "with an associated loss in revenue to the states and local governments."

Measures now under consideration include Senate Bill 1314, which would limit state funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, and SB 980, which would prohibit state agencies from doing business with companies unless they agree not to be part of economic boycotts. With these types of policies, the Perryman research says, the state would risk losing nearly $2.6 billion in annual income and almost 24,000 jobs by 2030.

Perryman also pointed out that controversial public policies are discouraging skilled workers seeking long-term employment and young workers as they consider where to begin their careers. He said it also plays a role for organizations in Missouri that are concerned about retaining employees.

"At a time when the U.S. economy is facing major challenges and uncertainty, the competition for quality corporate locations and expansions, as well as skilled workers, is particularly intense," he said, "and anti-DEI measures can be particularly damaging for future prosperity."

The report warns of similar negative financial consequences for the state of Kansas.

The Missouri Public News Service is a partner with KRCU Public Radio.

Born and raised in Canada to an early Pakistani immigrant family, Farah Siddiqi was naturally drawn to the larger purpose of making connections and communicating for public reform. She moved to America in 2000 spending most of her time in California and Massachusetts. She has also had the opportunity to live abroad and travel to over 20 countries.