April 11, 2017
Days after a provision to repeal the state’s prevailing wage law was yanked from Gov. Walker’s 2017-19 budget by leaders of the Joint Finance Committee, Sen. Leah Vukmir and Rep. Rob Hutton have re-introduced the measure as standalone legislation.
On Thursday, JFC co-chairs Sen. Alberta Darling and Rep. John Nygren removed prevailing wage repeal along with 82 other items in the budget identified by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau as non-fiscal policy items. The memo states those items need to be re-introduced as standalone legislation.
While removing some policy items from the budget is routine, this is just the second time in 25 years that JFC stripped all non-fiscal policy proposals from a governor’s budget. Darling and Nygren said they were open to returning some of the items after they receive individual public hearings.
Vukmir said she was disappointed the repeal proposal was pulled. “I think it has a direct impact on the transportation budget. I don’t think the budget gets passed without a full repeal,” Vukmir told the Wheeler Report.
— Senator Leah Vukmir (@LeahVukmir) April 11, 2017
“As lawmakers, we have a responsibility to manage the transportation budget efficiently,” Vukmir said in a joint statement with Hutton. “It’s unrealistic to do so without the accessibility of all tools. Repealing this burdensome red tape will ensure the use of taxpayer dollars are maximized.”
There’s a chance the repeal could be returned to the budget, but Hutton was optimistic that prevailing wage repeal could pass as a standalone bill. “While I was encouraged that the Governor put complete repeal of prevailing wage in the budget, the fact that the legislature can now pass this as a standalone piece of legislation shows that we are taking our responsibility as legislators seriously,” he told Wheeler.
“Two years ago we passed prevailing wage reform for local governments,” Hutton said in the statement. “It is now time to finish what we started and pass full prevailing wage repeal. As we look at the transportation budget this spring, we must ensure taxpayers are receiving the best value for their tax dollars.”
The prevailing wage law, which mandates artificially inflated wages and increases labor costs, was repealed for local projects in the last budget, but without full repeal, state projects remain on the hook.