Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Chance for Fiscal Sanity in Frankfort

Given Kentucky's budget crisis -- and how desperately our schools need upgrading -- one piece of legislation is like a breath of fresh air in Frankfort. It's SB 145, an Act Relating to School Construction, filed by Senator Damon Thayer. This legislation would exempt school's from the prevailing wage requirement of KRS 337.010.

That exemption would save schools approximately 21 percent on the labor costs of construction, which means that more schools could be built, repaired or upgraded for the same amount of money, according to the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition.

The Kentucky Department of Education Facilities Management Division found in 2004 that subjecting Kentucky schools to the prevailing wage requirement inflated construction costs by more than $480 million. That money could have done alot of good for our children, had it not been wasted.

Kentucky does not have that kind of money to squander -- particularly given that 90,000 of our children attend sub-par schools. For some districts, the problem is overcrowding. Other schools are in such bad shape that they should be condemned. Few schools offer the state of the art technology (like "smart classrooms") that can best help teachers teach and children learn.

So it is very refreshing to see someone introduce legislation that reflects good stewardship of our tax dollars and a practical way to help our schools. SB 145 deserves quick enactment. Tell your elected officials that Kentucky cannot afford to artificially inflate the cost of school construction by 21 percent.

No comments: