(MADISON, WI.)–Wisconsin lawmakers are considering a bill that would end the use of a prevailing wage for state public works projects.
The Legislature previously passed a measure that ended the minimum salary requirements for local projects, and Republicans are hoping to extend the provision to state projects as well.
During a public hearing on the bill Monday, state Senator Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) said the move would save Wisconsin hundreds of millions of dollars, as the state tries to deal with a massive shortfall in its transportation fund. “The full repeal of prevailing wage will help us effectively manage our budget, will promote the marketplace that supports a level playing field, encourage competition, and avoid favoritism,” she testified.
Democratic state Senator Bob Wirch (D-Kenosha) was among critics who argued the bill would just result in lower wages for workers, while driving skilled labor out of the state. “This is a terrible bill,” he said. “We have an income inequality issue in this country…your bill makes this worse.”
The repeal was originally included in Governor Walker’s proposed state budget, but was later removed by the Joint Finance Committee.