Legislation that would repeal prevailing wage for school construction passes Senate
01/14/2016 05:38 PM
FRANKFORT — Once again, a bill which would exempt schools and universities from Kentucky’s prevailing wage law, which sets higher wage rates for public works projects, was passed by the Senate chamber by a vote of 26 to 11.
Senate Bill 9, sponsor Sen. Wil Schroder, R-Wilder, says that exempting educational institutions from prevailing wage will allow the districts to save money and put those dollars elsewhere.
“Schools are paying more for construction with absolutely no guarantee for better quality,” Schroder said. “This money that will be saved with Senate Bill 9 can be used by the school districts to go to other things and other projects.”
Schroder says that school districts around the state are aware of the savings that they would benefit from if prevailing wage were repealed for their construction projects and have voiced their support for SB 9.
Schroder believes that repealing prevailing wage may actually add to more construction projects would be of benefit to the workers.
“The same workers that are claimed by the critics to be paid as well, they’re going to have more work to do and that’s going to drive up the amount of money that they bring home.”
Sen. Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, who cast one of the eleven no votes, fears that construction quality will suffer if prevail ling wage is repealed.
Jones also fears the legislation will hurt the construction workers who will be paid less for their work.
“I see it as an anti-worker bill or an anti-middle class bill,” Jones said. “There are a lot of opinions about these issue but the simple fact of the matter is that it’s bad for working men and women in Kentucky.”
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, who opposes the repealing of prevailing wage for school construction projects, feels that it’s all about the quality that the schools get when districts pay prevailing wage on projects.
“We have built schools all across Kentucky, and we’ve not had one material defect in those school buildings,” Stumbo said. “That’s what people forget about prevailing wage. Do you want undocumented folks building these buildings? Do you want people who aren’t specifically trained building these buildings?”
The legislation moves on the House where it has failed in the past sessions.
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