Prevailing Wage Reform is Common Sense
The Pennsylvania prevailing wage law is 50 years old and is an antiquated fleecing of Pennsylvanians taxpayers. Several lawmakers have fought for reform over the decades with no changes whatsoever to this law. We have seen a number of reform bills which would nibble around the prevailing wage law be thrwarted by politicians who are bought and paid for by unions. This has left the taxpayer with a hefty sum to pay come tax day.
Representative Ron Marsico further explains the need to reform prevailing wage law in the Commonwealth:
One of the first issues that I began to tackle when I took office was updating Pennsylvania’s antiquated Prevailing Wage Act with the underlying motive of saving Pennsylvania taxpayers millions of dollars.
And since I became a legislator 23 years ago, I have spent a great deal of time talking to my colleagues about the need to lessen the burden of property taxes, which goes hand in hand with overhauling the prevailing-wage law in the commonwealth.
Current law requires that all public bodies — including municipal and county governments, school districts and authorities created by the General Assembly — pay a prevailing wage on all public works projects exceeding a total estimated cost of $25,000.
Public projects that cost less are not subject to the act’s requirements. Prevailing-wage rates are set by the Department of Labor and Industry. The Prevailing Wage Act was passed more than 51 years ago, and the commonwealth, unbelievably, has not raised the threshold since its original passage.
We in the Legislature have finally begun to make headway with legislation that would implement updates to our archaic prevailing-wage mandate, which has been overly burdensome and has been inflating labor costs on public projects for far too long.
We have recently discussed raising the current threshold of $25,000 to $185,000. It is crucial that we make this adjustment to provide for a much more reasonable limit. This legislation would give us the opportunity to save hundreds of millions of dollars that could then be given back to the taxpayers. It could provide real property tax relief, which is something we have been trying to give Pennsylvanians for a long, long time.
Money should be saved in government, not extorted. After all, it’s not our money; it’s yours, the taxpayers.
Prevailing-wage rates are all too often not reflective of actual pay rates because they are built upon the rates paid to union employees. This system drives up the cost of public construction projects. This might not seem like a great deal, but it is particularly burdensome on school districts and local governments where money is already in short supply.
The bottom line is that our state’s prevailing-wage law hinders our economic development and job creation efforts, and that is the last thing we need as we work to boost our economy in the commonwealth. Not only is updating this legislation the common-sense thing to do — it is the right thing to do.
The Prevailing Wage Act of 1961, as it currently stands, puts a stranglehold on our school districts, our municipalities, our businesses and our taxpayers.
Common sense tells us to look for the most affordable way to get a job done right. Clearly, common sense must prevail over the prevailing wage in Pennsylvania.
Ron Marsico is a Republican state representative serving the 105th Legislative District in Dauphin County.