A full repeal of Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law was one of 83 items removed from Governor Scott Walker’s budget proposal by the Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee. Lawmakers last session repealed the requirement for local government projects. Walker’s budget provision would have removed it for state projects.
Prevailing wage laws mandate that taxpayers pay artificially inflated prices for labor on public construction projects. A legislative source told Media Trackers that “the JFC move was completely unexpected” and that supporters of the full repeal were caught completely off guard. A JFC memo said the 83 items removed from the budget were deemed “non-fiscal” and should be dealt with as stand alone legislation. State Senator Duey Stroebel, a supporter of full repeal, responded to a request for comment with an email statement. He disagreed with the JFC assessment of the prevailing wage repeal:
I was disappointed full prevailing wage repeal has been pulled as a non-fiscal policy item. As other states have experienced, and we have begun to see in Wisconsin for local governments, prevailing wage repeal saves taxpayer resources.
The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance evaluation determined the repeal would save Wisconsin taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.
I plan to continue to follow the JFC process as I did yesterday by attending the public hearing at State Fair Park.
When budgeting, our priority should always be to pass policy reforms that save money through efficiencies. Prevailing wage does that.
Opponents of full repeal have attempted to portray it as hurting veterans. The Wisconsin chapter of the American Legion has been a vocal opponent of the full repeal, citing a study that 2,000 Wisconsin veterans could lose their jobs as the result of a full repeal of the prevailing wage law. As Media Trackers has previously reported, Concerned Veterans For America have refuted that claim.