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Proposed Changes for Wisconsin’s Prevailing Wage Law

July 8, 2015

Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, along with other Assembly members, has called upon the Wisconsin Senate to implement changes which would cut back the state’s prevailing wage.

An ongoing debate has been occurring between those pushing for full repeal of the prevailing wage law and those more focused on preserving the law. These differing positions may provide a compromise.

Proposed changes include cutting eligible projects by 60 percent, setting new minimum salaries for construction workers, and exempting projects that cost less than $450,000 from the law. Furthermore, projects worth less than $1 million would be exempt if at least half the funding comes from private donations.

Reform supporters believe these changes are a step in the right direction, as they would result in half of public construction projects becoming exempt from the law. Supporters also feel the changes would allow more businesses to participate in the projects since the state will require less paperwork from contractors. In addition, a reduction in administrative costs which were previously passed on to taxpayers is expected as administrative work is decreased.

Opponents, however, see these changes as another attempt to save money by lowering wages. They want to preserve the law to fight the risk of lowering the quality of workers, emphasizing that cheapest is not always a better value. The proposed change calls for a study in four years to determine whether the reforms were successful in lowering costs.