Prevailing Wage Costing Taxpayers Up to 40 Percent More on Projects in Their Communities, Says Scavello
5/24/2013

Scavello today led a video conferencing call with policy experts on this issue

HARRISBURG – In an effort to make the complex Prevailing Wage Act a household discussion across Pennsylvania, Rep. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe) today led a video conferencing call with policy experts who are directly impacted by this burdensome and antiquated law.

“To best put into perspective the inflation of the prevailing wage law, in Monroe County, a worker is currently making $51 per hour on a commercial roofing project that falls under prevailing wage,” said Scavello, chairman of the House Labor and Industry Committee. “This project is no different than performing labor to put a roof on a house, yet it’s costing our taxpayers nearly 40 percent more because of this outdated law.”

Scavello was joined by Lancaster County Commissioner Scott Martin; state Rep. Stephen Bloom (R-Cumberland); Jennifer Stefano, state director of Americans for Prosperity of Pennsylvania; and Kevin Shivers, state director of National Federation of Independent Business.

Pennsylvania’s burdensome prevailing wage law has made it particularly difficult for schools and municipal governments to maximize a competitive bidding process to get the best deal for taxpayers. When labor, one of the key components of any construction job, is basically a fixed price set by the government, it is hard to get much variation in bids.

Under current law, the prevailing wage applies to any public works project estimated to cost more than $25,000. Those projects include any construction, reconstruction, demolition, alteration or repair – paid for in whole or in part – out of the funds of a public body where the total estimated cost of the project exceeds $25,000. Unfortunately, that amount has not been altered for more than 50 years, not even for inflation.

Because the current prevailing wage rates are now, effectively, the local union wage rates, in many areas these rates often do not reflect the actual market rate paid on private construction projects, especially in rural areas.

“We live in era in of government bankruptcy and Act 47, not just in the Harrisburgs and Readings of Pennsylvania, but also our mid-sized townships and municipalities,” said Martin. “The Prevailing Wage Act has long outlived its usefulness and is costing Lancaster County an extra $2 million to $4 million per year

Similarly, Bloom said he’s received formal resolutions from most townships located within his legislative district urging Pennsylvania to take action to relieve the cost pressure imposed on their townships and their taxpayers because of the Prevailing Wage Act.

“We can’t continue to burden our taxpayers with more expenses on school and road construction projects across Pennsylvania,” said Bloom.  “Our workers should receive a fair wage, but it shouldn’t penalize our taxpayers.”

Aside from negatively impacting local governments, however, Stefano said that most taxpayers in Pennsylvania are unaware they are directly hit by this law because it is a complex issue in which many people are unfamiliar.

“All working families across the nation deserve to be treated fairly by their state governments. When our hard-working taxpayers in Pennsylvania are paying at least 10 percent more to pay for children’s school construction or the roads we’re traveling on, it’s just not right,” Stefano.

With a new tank of fuel toward reform efforts this legislative session, the House Labor and Industry Committee has recently advanced two pieces of legislation – House Bills 796 and 665 – which, respectively, aim to raise the prevailing wage threshold and establish a clear definition for “maintenance work.”

“Thanks to our current prevailing wage law, we are watching infrastructure crumble around us because many municipalities across Pennsylvania aren’t taking on small paving projects, sidewalk repairs or park maintenance projects,” said Shivers, noting that many jobs are stymied because of projects that aren’t being done in part due to the hefty costs in which they are associated.

A taping of this video conference, “Saving Local Tax Dollars through Prevailing Wage Reform” can be found at YouTube.com/PAHouseGOPnews.

For more details on prevailing wage reform measures under consideration in the House, visit the House Republican Caucus’ prevailing wage website, FixPrevailingWage.com, or Scavello’s website at MarioScavello.com.

Representative Mario Scavello
176th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact:  Lauren Whetzel
717.260.6451
lwhetzel@pahousegop.com
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