State reps offer contrasting views on prevailing wage

State Reps. David Bowen, D-Milwaukee, and Rob Hutton, R-Brookfield, find little common ground in the debate over a proposed repeal of Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law.

Hutton told “UpFront with Mike Gousha” the existing practice of using survey data to determine worker wages on publicly funded projects prevents small businesses from successfully bidding for state contracts. He called prevailing wage regulations “antiquated” and said the law hurts the companies it was passed to help.

“Job creators and providers of contract services are really the ones being most hurt by this law because they are the ones, in most cases, who aren’t able to participate in the process of prevailing wage,” Hutton said on the program, produced in partnership with

Bowen warned of the impact of the change on contract work in Wisconsin, predicting out-of-state bidders would undercut local contractors. He expressed concerns over the qualifications of lower wage workers.

“When we remove prevailing wage requirements … they are purposely going to undercut our local companies and it is a hard argument to say … that these outside companies won’t rely on unskilled and less qualified workers,” Bowen said.

While Hutton argued the repeal would provide budgetary relief for municipalities and state organizations, Bowen called the potential results “speculative,” and said further study is needed.

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