MADISON — A
study from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance says the state's
mandated inflated pay rates on public projects cost taxpayers more
than $200 million in 2014.
) reports the group looked at the state's laws on prevailing
wages, which set minimums for worker wages and benefits on big
government projects. The group found it would have saved state and
local governments $200 million to $300 million if they paid
were 45 percent higher than local market rates on average,
according to the study.
The study was
paid for by an industry group that backs repealing prevailing wage
requirements. The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance did not take a
position on whether they should be repealed.
say there were problems with the study's methodology, and that
getting rid of prevailing wages would result in lower pay and
savings for the taxpayer by lowering wages in construction,"
said Wisconsin State Council of Carpenters executive director Mark
Reihl. "The problem with that is if you have lower wages
you're not going to get the same level of efficiency, productivity
legislature bill to repeal prevailing wages is awaiting a
committee hearing. The bill is authored by state Rep. Rob Hutton,
to be repealed so we can let the free market — as the private
sector does — determine the cost of wages and the cost of
projects that have a direct impact on the taxpayers," Hutton
There are laws on
prevailing wages in 32 states, with rules in Wisconsin dating back
to the 1930s. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development
calculates prevailing wages using a survey of construction
contractors, although only about 10 percent of surveys are filled
out properly and returned.