The Pennsylvania House of Representatives may vote today on a bill to reform the 1961 prevailing wage mandate. The prevailing wage requires government to pay higher wages and benefits for construction projects than the private sector for the same work, costing taxpayers upwards of $2 billion each year.
The state prevailing wage law is based on the federal Davis-Bacon act, which was passed with the expressed intent of limiting competition.
The legislation being considered today—HB 1329—would not repeal this costly, unnecessary law, but simply increase the threshold above which projects are subject to the prevailing wage mandate. The current level, $25,000, has not been increased in 50 years. When the prevailing wage law was created, $25,000 was double the cost of the average family home.
Even this modest reform would save taxpayers and help local governments complete important and routine projects. Here are some examples, from the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania:
- A $42,000 bridge repair project in Carbon County.
- A $46,500 roof replacement in Adams County.
- Spending $44,000 to replace exterior lights and posts at the Westmoreland County Courthouse.
Cumberland County’s director of facilities estimated that 90% of the county’s contracts would fall under the threshold if it were raised to $185,000. For more information, see this policy points on the history and impact of Pennsylvania’s Prevailing Wage.
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