Prevailing Wage Repeal Counteroffensive

Sen. Leah Vukmir, R–Brookfield, and Rep. Rob Hutton, R–Brookfield, Tuesday reintroduced a bill that would repeal Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law for state projects following the announcement the initiative was removed from the budget last week.

“As lawmakers we have a responsibility to manage the transportation budget efficiently,” Vukmir said in a news release. “It’s unrealistic to do so without the accessibility of all tools. Repealing this burdensome red tape will ensure the use of taxpayer dollars are maximized.”

“Two years ago we passed prevailing wage reform for local governments,” Hutton said in the release. “It is now time to finish what we started and pass full prevailing wage repeal. As we look at the transportation budget this spring, we must ensure taxpayers are receiving the best value for their tax dollars.”

In the 2015-17 budget, the prevailing wage requirement was repealed for local governments, including towns, cities, counties and school districts beginning on Jan. 1, 2017. Now local governments can receive competitive bids for projects that don’t include unreasonably high prevailing wage costs, the lawmakers said

In 2015, Vukmir and Hutton authored the bill that would repeal the wage requirement for all state and local projects. This proposal would complete the goal of full repeal. Meanwhile, Concerned Veterans for America Tuesday morning launched a web ad supporting complete prevail of prevailing wage in Wisconsin.

The ad release comes on the heels of an in-depth memo released by CVA in March which refutes myths that veterans support prevailing wage laws. According to the CVA, there is no evidence that veterans as a demographic benefit from prevailing wage laws – in fact, these laws have been found to constrain job growth and increase the costs of construction projects.

Prevailing wage laws, which were adopted in Wisconsin nearly 85 years ago, mandate that contractors are paid based on rates decided by unions. Instead of having the market determine how much these services are valued by the state, union bosses get to decide – and then taxpayers get stuck with the bill. Prevailing wage laws result in higher taxpayer costs and can limit the ability of many small businesses to compete for government work.