Lawmakers Eye Reform of State’s Prevailing Wage Laws

Braced by the findings of a new study (see preceding story) a number of Republican lawmakers are looking for the best way to reform or repeal the state’s 80-year-old prevailing wage law.

That law, or more accurately three separate laws, determines pay rates for workers on public works projects in the state. Critics say it uses a system that sets wages artificially high, at the expense of taxpayers and to the frustration of public officials trying to stay on budget.

State Rep. Rob Hutton (R-Brookfield), author of the Assembly’s repeal bill, held a Capitol press conference with various repeal supporters representing the construction industry, independent businesses, municipalities and school districts. All of the speakers at the press conference discussed how repeal could save money and remove an onerous, bureaucratic weight.

Glen Allgaier, treasurer of the Elmbrook School Board, projected his district would save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in construction, maintenance, and debt costs if prevailing wage were repealed.

Although Rep. Hutton told reporters discussions with leadership are ongoing about addressing prevailing wage as a standalone bill or in the budget, according to Wispolitics.com, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) has maintained his position stated in a March 20 interview that prevailing wage will not be repealed. According to his office, Vos remains focused on finding ways to improve the law.

Read more: Wisconsin State Journal; Wispolitics