Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thayer Asks Beshear to Add Prevailing Wage to Special Session Call

Sen. Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) has requested Gov. Steve Beshear to add repeal of the prevailing wage (as applied to schools) to the list of topics called for in the upcoming Special Session.

Thayer's press release notes that as a first priority, we must "dedicate ourselves to maximizing every dollar we invest in Kentucky’s future." The prevailing wage, according to Thayer, is one area in which Kentuckians are not getting the maximum possible return on their taxes spent:

According to a report by the Legislative Research Commission, Kentucky’s prevailing wage laws artificially inflate school construction labor costs by 21 percent. That means that 21 cents of those dollars are directed at inflated wages as opposed to going toward investments in larger schools, enhanced technology, more energy efficient facilities and an overall better environment for Kentucky’s children to learn in.

In 2004, KDE estimated that between 1999 and 2004, the prevailing wage law artificially increased the cost of school construction by more than $480 million. To put this in perspective, the total resource requirements in 2005 to meet the reported “needs assessment” of Category 4 and 5 schools, schools in the worst physical shape, was just under $500 million. Had the dollars that were directed toward inflated prevailing wages during that period been invested in our schools –nearly every child in Kentucky would have been attending an adequate school.

This is why I filed legislation to repeal “prevailing wage” during the 2009 Session and it is my intent to do so again.

Kentucky has too many children attending schools that are no more than hovels. There is no extra money to give to education this year, so at the very least, let's make sure that what little we can spend goes as far as possible.

Thayer is to be congratulated for this sensible requesst to stop padding the cost of school construction. Again, this is not a proposal to spend more -- just to spend more wisely. Beshear should add it to the Special Session call.

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