Marsico Introduces Package of Bills to Save Pennsylvania Millions
HARRISBURG – Rep. Ron Marsico (R-Lower Paxton) recently introduced a package of legislation that would save Pennsylvanians millions of dollars by amending the Prevailing Wage Act.
The first bill, House Bill 666, would create a countywide referendum process to decide whether school districts in each county should be subject to the act.
“It is extremely frustrating that the people of Pennsylvania continue to be strapped with overly burdensome taxes,” Marsico said. “Simply put, this is a sound measure that could save valuable taxpayer dollars. Let’s let the taxpayers decide if they want to save millions or spend millions.”
The Prevailing Wage Act of 1961 established “prevailing” minimum wage rates that must be paid on public construction projects. Currently, the rates established under the act reflect union wage rates that often are not representative of the actual wage rates paid in the county.
The legislation would require county election officials to put a referendum question on the ballot that would ask county voters if they favor being subject to the Prevailing Wage Act for school district construction projects in their county. If the referendum question was approved by a majority of voters in that county, then school district projects in that county would be subject to the Prevailing Wage Act. In essence, this legislation creates an “opt-in” process that allows the voters of every county to decide whether they want their schools built in accordance with the Prevailing Wage Act. The legislation permits a revote once every 10 years.
The House Labor Relations Committee previously conducted a public hearing on legislation that proposed making Prevailing Wage Act requirements optional for school districts. It was estimated that school districts could save anywhere from 10-15 percent on school construction projects if they were not subject to the act.
“I believe that the prevailing wage law is archaic and in today’s economy, things need to change,” said Marsico. “My legislation gives us the opportunity to save hundreds of millions of dollars that could then be given back to the taxpayers.”
School districts in Pennsylvania spend approximately $90 million of taxpayer money annually to comply with the prevailing wage mandate.
The second bill in the package, House Bill 665, would provide a clear definition of what actions taken with respect to road repairs are subject to the act's requirements.
“Due to the skyrocketing costs of road projects, because of the current Prevailing Wage Act, many projects have been curtailed or canceled completely,” Marsico said. “The bottom line is that the antiquated system of prevailing wage can hinder our economic development and job creation efforts, and that is the last thing we need as we work to boost our economy. I have received overwhelming support for this legislation.”
This legislation proposes to put into law road repair guidelines that municipalities have traditionally followed and accepted.
The third bill in the package, House Bill 999, would amend current law to exempt construction/reconstruction projects in Keystone Opportunity Zones (KOZs) from the requirements of the Prevailing Wage Act. The Prevailing Wage Act requires that “prevailing wages” be paid on public projects in the Commonwealth that are over $25,000 in project costs.
“KOZs are, by definition, areas that are blighted and which need both public and private investment. In particular, many KOZ areas are in need of public infrastructure improvements to attract investment,” said Marsico. “I believe that we need to exempt these areas from the requirements of the Prevailing Wage Act to allow public bodies to maximize the dollars they have to spend on infrastructure improvements.”
The fourth bill in the package, House Bill 664, would amend the state Prevailing Wage Act to exempt political subdivisions and their authorities, agencies, or instrumentalities from the act's coverage.
This legislation would initially repeal the prevailing wage mandate and also contain a provision whereby local government organizations could elect, by ordinance or resolution, to subject themselves once again to the requirements of the act.
“Numerous credible studies have shown that the use of prevailing wage rates generally raises the cost of public construction projects anywhere from 5 percent to 20 percent,” said Marsico. “As a result, many municipalities are struggling to keep costs down, keep property taxes under control and balance their budgets.
“Common sense tells us to look for the most affordable way to get a job done right. Clearly, common sense must prevail over the prevailing wage,” said Marsico. “Enacting these laws is not only the commonsense thing to do – it is the right thing to do.”
All four bills have been referred to the House Labor and Industry Committee.
Representative Ronald Marsico
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Autumn R. Southard, 717.652.3721