Panel gets earful on the outdated prevailing wage law

The state House Labor and Industry Committee got an earful at a recent public hearing locally on the prevailing wage reform.

And why not?

The prevailing wage rate requirement on public projects over $25,000 costs taxpayers a lot of unnecessary money due to a flawed premise.

The prevailing wage scale is closer to the union wage rates in larger cities, a big stretch for contractors, particularly non-union contractors, in our region.

The result is a $15 million cost for highway and bridge projects in Lycoming County that could have been $4.5 million cheaper if the state prevailing wage rates weren’t necessary. That’s a lot of extra road and bridge work on behalf of taxpayers.

Many contractors don’t even bid on prevailing wage projects because they know they can’t afford to pay those required wages.

Put it simple consumer terms, imagine going into a grocery store and finding pricing of all the food items based not on a minimum the stores are required to charge. Your grocery money wouldn’t go nearly as far.

The House committee is promoting three reform bills: Raising the threshold on which the prevailing wage applies to $100,000, giving local governments a four-year opt-out option and broadening the definition of maintenance work regarding road repairs.

Those are all nice thoughts.

We would prefer getting rid of the prevailing wage laws and letting the free market system work for taxpayers rather than against them for a change.