One week to the day after Bluegrass Institute president Jim Waters’ Bluegrass Beacon column on the need to eliminate prevailing wage on school-construction projects was released to newspapers statewide, the Kentucky Senate voted 26-11 to repeal prevailing-wage mandates on school and university construction projects.
While Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, has declared Senate Bill 9 dead on arrival in the Kentucky House of Representatives, we wonder how he responds to the legislature’s own nonpartisan research estimates indicating a 7.9 percent cost savings for K-12 school projects if the bill becomes law.
We also wonder how Stumbo can ignore the support of this policy by many in the public-education community, including Tim Shelton, executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents, who testified in favor of the legislation.
“We have seen, over the years, a 20 percent to 30 percent increase in the costs of construction due to the prevailing wage implementation,” Shelton, a former Fayette County school superintendent, told lawmakers. “This of course allows much less to be done. This costs the state and costs our local school districts.”
He also called prevailing wage “just an additional cost on taxpayers.”
Exempting schools and universities from prevailing-wage mandates on their construction projects would allow Kentucky to increase funding for education without borrowing, raising taxes or crowding out funding for other programs.
Tune in tonight at 8 pm (eastern) for a debate on KET’s Kentucky Tonight regarding prevailing-wage mandates.
Send questions and comments, including your first and last names and town or county to firstname.lastname@example.org, @BillKET or call 1.800.494.7605 during the program.