Six bills to reform Pennsylvania’s prevailing wage law passed the House Labor and Industry Committee today, and will now go to the full House for a vote. The state’s 1961 Prevailing Wage Act requires that workers on taxpayer-funded construction projects be paid the government-established “prevailing wage”—often the union-inflated wage that is higher than the market rate for identical work. The law means taxpayers often pay an extra 30 percent or more in labor costs for government construction projects—or $1 billion a year. The bills the House will consider are:
- HB 1271: Defines “maintenance work” to include road repairs, which reduces the number of projects subject to Prevailing Wage Act requirements.
- HB 1685: Requires using federal occupational classifications to clarify the application of the law to jobs on construction sites.
- HB 1329: Raises the minimum amount to which the Prevailing Wage Act applies to $185,000 (from $25,000) and adjusts for inflation in future years.
- HB 1541: Exempts projects where more than half the funding comes from private sources from the Prevailing Wage Act.
- HB 709: Allows school districts to opt out of the Prevailing Wage Act for school construction projects.
- HB 1191: Allows all local governments to opt out of the Prevailing Wage Act.
Prevailing wage requirements have for decades burdened taxpayers and slowed the state economy. It’s good to see reform efforts finally making headway.