The Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee today ensured that legislation lowering the cost of school-construction projects by repealing prevailing-wage requirements is the first bill to reach the Senate floor.
“For school districts, it’s going to save up to 51 percent off labor costs on construction projects,” Sen. Will Schroder, who sponsored Senate Bill 9, told me this afternoon. “And that’s the Legislative Research Commission telling us that; that’s not a chamber group telling you that, and it’s not a labor group telling you that. It’s the nonpartisan research arm of the Legislature.”
The committee’s 10-1 vote sends the bill to the full Senate, which could vote on it as early as this week.
Schroder, R-Wilder, who sponsored similar legislation last year, scoffed at claims by union leaders that repealing prevailing-wage requirements on school-construction projects would improve the quality of the buildings.
“There’s absolutely no study that shows prevailing-wage requirements increase quality,” he said. “While some studies show that it will increase wages for some, no study has been able to show that it guarantees a better product.”
D. Eric Schansberg, Ph.D., a member of the Bluegrass Institute Board of Scholars, helps explain the increased costs associated with prevailing-wage requirements:
“On the one hand, we have a powerful interest group lobbying for union-level prevailing wages. On the other hand, we have non-union workers who bear much of the costs of such political gamesmanship, as does the general public. Though the non-union workers may be well positioned to work with the general public to change the prevailing wage law, doing so will be exceedingly difficult given public apathy and unawareness.”