A new report argues repealing Wisconsin’s prevailing wage could lower worker’s wages and put a heavier burden on taxpayers.
The study by the Midwest Economic Policy Institute claims a full repeal of the prevailing wage would cost taxpayer $336 million-dollars annually, due to lost wages shifting more workers to social safety net programs. Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) says that should have Republicans re-thinking plans to remove the requirement from state-funded government construction projects.
“This should be a game change for Republicans,” Barca said, during a news conference at the Capitol Tuesday. “I’ve heard my colleagues across the aisle say repeatedly that they want to give people a hand up not a handout. Repealing prevailing wage does the exact opposite of that as it actually assures more workers will need government assistance.”
The state’s prevailing wage requirement sets basic salary requirements that must be paid for those working on government-funded projects. GOP lawmakers previously repealed its use on the local level, and a proposal being considered this session would extend the change to state-funded projects. Supporters argue the move will lower the cost of government-funded projects, while allowing non-union companies to more easily compete for that work.