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Friday, August 30, 2013

Witnesses: Local Road Repairs and Building Projects Go Undone in Pennsylvania Due to Prevailing Wage Law

Witnesses: Local Road Repairs and Building Projects Go Undone in Pennsylvania Due to Prevailing Wage Law
 Hearing highlights local financial problems and the costs to taxpayers

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania’s prevailing wage laws costs jobs, taxes and economic development according to municipal officials who testified before the House Labor and Industry Committee Thursday in State College.  Rep. Stephen Bloom (R-Cumberland), who presided over the meeting, said reform of the Prevailing Wage Law is needed for the benefit of taxpayers.

“Prevailing wage prevents local governments from funding necessary projects,” said Bloom.  “Under prevailing wage, Pennsylvania’s municipalities and school districts just can’t afford to complete projects or don’t do them at all.” 

Those who testified included township managers, supervisors, a county commissioner and union officials. 

“Clearly, the prevailing wage mandate results in less roads paved and at a higher cost,” said Vana Dainty, Bellefonte Borough Council vice president, who indicated that the borough has postponed “true maintenance that was needed for our roads and was forced into doing more patching projects.”

Clinton County Commissioner Pete Smeltz agreed, saying, “It’s a matter of simple mathematics.  If we pay as much as 20 percent more to complete a project by most common calculations to meet prevailing wage, we must bid less jobs.  Most commissioners today in Pennsylvania will not increase taxes for major building projects but instead will use debt service and a number of small to medium projects are simply left undone.” 

Ferguson Township, Centre County Manager Mark Kunkle said prevailing wage caused a project to go from $20,990 to $32,980, an increase of 57 percent “without any additional change to the scope of work.  In my opinion the township did not receive any better quality of work by paying more for this portion of a project.” 

“The Prevailing Wage Law is a mandate; and an expensive one at that,” Bloom said. “Prevailing wage law is squelching jobs and putting an unnecessarily high burden on taxpayers, and it’s one of the big factors driving up property taxes.”

 The hearing was held at the Penn Stater Conference Center in State College, the first in a series on the topic of Prevailing Wage Law reforms.  Additional hearings are slated for Stroud Township, Monroe County, on Aug. 29; Williamsport, Lycoming County, on Sept. 10; and Johnstown, Cambria County, on Sept. 16.

Pennsylvania’s Prevailing Wage Law requires municipalities and school districts to pay the “prevailing minimum wage” to those individuals working on public construction projects. The Prevailing Wage Act does not specify how the “prevailing minimum wage” in a locality is to be determined, and the act leaves much discretion to the secretary of labor and industry as to how to set the wage. Currently, the secretary of labor and industry is opting to use the area union wage rates as the prevailing wage rate that is to be paid on public projects. It is argued by Prevailing Wage Act reform proponents that union wage rates are more comparable to wage rates paid in larger cities, and often do not reflect the actual  prevailing wages paid in rural areas. Reform advocates believe that basing prevailing wage rates in rural counties on union wage rates inflates the costs of public projects anywhere from 5 percent to 20 percent.


Anonymous said...

Prevailing wage!!!! What a joke, my tax dollars for union votes!!!!
I doubt the law makers pay prevailing wage for repairs on their own property. Lt competit366ion prevail.

Anonymous said...

Why don't we just go back to the days of the CCC camps?

Anonymous said...

That's exactly when the Democrats started using tax dollars to by votes. And look at the mouths in the federal food trough now!!!!

Anonymous said...

If you pay workers a decent wage, they won't need assistance like food stamps and medical care. Why is it that white-collar people are always placing judgment on the value of blue-collar work? It's time we supported good wages for everyone and stopped stripping away what little is left of the middle class. This article is terribly one-sided. But then again, so many posters here see things only one way. Look at the formula for wages and amend it if it's way out of line, but stop trying to do everything involving physical work on the cheap. Low bid doesn't mean it's best for the taxpayers. Stop hating the unions too. It's not a coincidence that the decline of the middle class parallels the decline of trade unionism. The unions have been clobbered legislatively for far too long, and we all suffer from it. Look at wages overall for the last 20 years or so, and see how "well" the middle class is doing.

Anonymous said...

Maybe if the head of the unions and all their friends,family and so on didn't take huge salaries have million dollar homes spend millions on vacations for themselves and their democrats that are in their pockets the middle class would be in better shape! It's all about greed with unions!

Anonymous said...

The mouth at the federal food trough?

You must be talking about our military, security and intelligence industrial complex.

The democrats didn't do that, well, not alone. It was a bipartisan effort.

As is every action when it comes to giving away our tax dollars to rich corrupt globalists.

As for the prevailing wage, they'll see all of us working for Chinese wages before they're done.

Haven't you figured it out America? You have no reason to expect a reasonable wage, or benefits... no. You should work your fingers to the bone and be happy for whatever the blessed "job creators" bestow you with.

All the money belongs at the top. Trust us. Oh, and thank you for blaming the poor people and your neighbors for all the problems the rich have engineered... they sure appreciate it. (Not enough to compensate you.. but maybe a Christmas card or something :)

Anonymous said...

I have been operating a government construction business my whole life and I can confidently say its not the wage that sends the prices out of this world...its the over engineering!!!! No question about it.