Two sources in Madison tell me that a notice will be issued Tuesday morning for a public hearing and anticipated vote Wednesday in the Assembly Labor Committee on a bill that would fully repeal the state’s antiquated prevailing wage law. The law artificially inflates labor costs on public construction projects. Sources had previously told me that an earlier effort at a hearing was put down by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. Vos is believed to fear that repealing Prevailing Wage will cost Republicans seats in future elections.
I am told that the ranks of those in the Assembly who feel repealing prevailing wage is critical to the overall budget process are growing. I’m also told that it’s unlikely Vos will be able to stop this hearing from happening. Sources tell me that Joint Finance Committee would be expected to vote on the bill Friday or Saturday. I’m told it’s possible that if a bill is ultimately voted on by lawmakers that it could be amended into a bill that narrows the scope of the law, perhaps to local government projects only, but does not fully repeal it. But the bill getting a hearing Wednesday would be for full repeal. It’s also possible that no bill will get a floor vote.
Sources tell me that there is a growing concern among lawmakers that it’ll be impossible to make budget numbers work without the savings that would be realized by repealing prevailing wage. I’m reaching out to Labor Committee Chair Representative Andre Jacque to get him on my show tomorrow morning to discuss.
Here’s the thing… the numbers are clear that repealing prevailing wage would save the state and local governments hundreds of millions of dollars per year. There is not a good economic or philosophical argument for preserving the laws – there is only a political argument.
The Republicans who want a Bucks arena, more K-12 spending, more transportation spending, more tax cuts, etc. are going to have a hard time convincing many of their colleagues to vote for their initiatives if they are unwilling to make this simple change to free up a lot of money.
The votes are there on the floor to repeal the prevailing wage laws. That is why leadership has been fighting like hell to keep it from getting to the floor. If Bader is correct and it makes it to the floor of the Assembly, it will pass. Then the onus is back on the Senate to get this done.
Call your legislators. The next few weeks are when everything happens.