MACo Supports School Construction Prevailing Wage Waiver

On January 26, 2015 Robin Clark Eilenberg, MACo Policy Analyst, testified to the House Economic Matters Committee in support of HB 23, Procurement – Prevailing Wage Law – Waiver From Provisions.

This bill would create a limited waiver process from the State’s prevailing wage requirements to allow for needed school construction projects to move forward.

A study of prevailing wage rates by the Interagency Committee on School Construction reviewing side-by-side school construction bids that took place over almost four years, from January 2012 to December 2015, showed that prevailing wage laws increase project costs by an average of over 11%.

Theses cost increases mean that limited state and county funding stretches to fewer projects. Counties have delayed renovations of aging schools and counties have suspended construction of schools needed to accommodate growing student populations. The waiver process described in HB 23 would allow consideration of school construction needs to be balanced with other policy interests.

The Commissioner on Labor and Industry may waive application of the prevailing wage on two grounds, under the legislation:

  1. If compliance with prevailing wage law would cause the public body to defer or cancel the construction of a new school for which there is demonstrated need, or
  2. If compliance with the prevailing wage law would increase the cost of construction a new school by 10% or more.

For more on MACo 2016 legislation, visit the Legislative Database.

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