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Prevailing wage hikes the cost of local government

Published: Friday, Jan. 18, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

Do you think the average voter knows what the prevailing wage in Illinois means to the taxpayer? Here's the way I understand it.

The prevailing wage is a list of different job titles, created by the state, along with prevailing wage amounts. Every year, all tax-supported bodies within the state must adopt the new prevailing wage to be eligible for any grants.

The amount of the prevailing wage is about 40 percent higher than the average wage. The labor portion of any project must be paid at the prevailing rate. Contractors must keep records and adjust their employees' wages for those projects. 

Last year, the Jo Daviess County legislative committee, with state Rep. Jim Sacia's help, introduced a bill to declare any project less than $20,000 exempt from the prevailing wage rule. County board members went to Springfield to testify at the only hearing of this bill. It never got out of committee. Sacia said he'd reintroduce this bill. 

Now the Senate has a bill, SB 2643, on the floor. It stipulates that contractors, to be considered for prevailing wage projects, must have a U.S. Department of Labor apprentice training program. This makes it impossible to use small, local, non-union contractors as well as having quick response to critical repairs by the same local contractors.

To recap: The prevailing wage costs taxpayers more money than it should. It handicaps tax-supported bodies with higher everyday expenses as well as grants that are less efficient than they could be. This leads to taxing bodies raising local taxes. It damages the free enterprise system.

This is one reason our state and federal checkbooks are overdrawn. I cannot understand how legislators continue to make rules that allow picking our own pockets and making managing local government more difficult.

Every taxpayer should be outraged. I urge every taxpayer to contact their state lawmakers to not support SB 2643.

Note to readers – Delos “Tiny” Groezinger is the parks and water chairman for the village of Elizabeth.

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