Of Mice, Barbie and Prevailing Wage

In March of 1961, the Soviet Union shot a dog, some mice and a guinea pig into space.  Meanwhile, back in the U.S., nine black students from Mississippi made the first effort of passive resistance to end segregation, Barbie was introduced to a feller named Ken and the CIA made plans for the invasion of Cuba.

Ken and BarbieIn Pennsylvania?  Well, state government made the Prevailing Wage Law thought then to protect construction workers from out-of-state competition, mandating that contractors pay the wages that “prevail” in each region on all government construction projects more than $25,000.

Since then, America won the Space Race over a now- defunct Soviet Union, Barbie and Ken expanded their empire and the scourge of segregation has ended.  But what about Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage, you ask?  Still alive and kicking the butts of every local government and taxpayer.

While the world was busy getting on with its business, Pennsylvania remained stuck in the ‘60s and thus the prevailing wage threshold of $25,000 still applies.  When the law was enacted in 1961, this represented twice the value of an average home; and, if the threshold had been adjusted for inflation, it would have increased to $185,000 today.

Hit with shrinking funds because of the recession, townships, counties, boroughs, cities and school districts are desperately looking for ways to use taxpayer money more efficiently.  No area knows this better than Berks County where the county seat of Reading has seen poverty and crime skyrocket while local governments try to do more with a shrinking tax base. 

In a recent letter to the editor, here is what the Berks County Board of Commissioners had to say about Prevailing Wage:

“We support House Bill 1329, currently before the state House of Representatives, to increase the threshold to $185,000, with an annual adjustment. If House Bill 1329 were enacted, we could complete a variety of projects at an estimated savings of 20 percent to 30 percent, lowering the cost to our taxpayers.

House Bill 1329 would allow county dollars to be used more effectively for these projects, as well as reduce the pressure on local property tax dollars. We encourage our state representatives to vote yes on House Bill 1329.

We do, too, commissioners, we do, too.

To encourage your representative to support this bill and get Pennsylvania out of the ’60s, CLICK HERE and ask them to vote “YES” on HB 1329.