We Need a Law for That?
If I told you that there is a new law in Wisconsin that allows
municipal, county, and state governments to hire the best contractors
and laborers for government projects, regardless of their affiliations,
you’d ask, “We needed a law for that?” Yes, we needed a law to ensure
that the best, most qualified people are hired for government
construction jobs and people who know all the right people or give money
to the right groups aren’t given preferential treatment. Those things
shouldn’t matter when we build our schools, village halls, and other
This past Monday, April 17th at AmeriLux International in De
Pere, Governor Walker signed
2017 Wisconsin Act 3
into law. The new law removes old barriers and allows for free
market principles to promote competition and gain the best services at
the best price for local and state governments. The old constraints
called Project Labor Agreements (PLA’s) hamstrung government and
mandated contractors to replace most of their employees with union
members, use only union apprentices, and contribute to union benefit
plans even if they offer an existing, sometimes better, benefit plan.
The new law, known as the PLA Neutrality Law, does not ban the use of
PLA’s but prohibits PLA’s as a condition of winning or even being
considered for a bid.
Recently, Dane County requested bids for a proposed $800,000 restroom
project that required a Project Labor Agreement (PLA). A single bid
with the unnecessary project labor agreement provisions included came
back at $1.6 million for an $800,000 project. Requiring the bids to
have a project labor agreement DOUBLED the cost of the project! We need
to allow more small business bidders, not fence them out. It’s public
officials job to steward taxpayer dollars wisely, not spend them like
they’re your rich late uncles.
PLA’s drive up the cost of public projects, according to a
report from The Beacon Hill Institute
costing taxpayers 12% to 18% more on projects where PLA’s are
instituted. The increased cost translates into an increase of
$27-$32.49 per square foot in construction costs. The PLA
Neutrality Law levels the playing field by doing away with the costly
and burdensome requirements of project labor agreements and will help create
more jobs and job opportunities for small businesses.
Under the new PLA Neutrality Law that I cosponsored and that Governor
Walker just signed into law, taxpayer’s will get the most bang for their
buck and local non-union businesses won’t be fenced out for political
motivations. The best bid from a qualified bidder
is the best method and many union business will be okay because they
have a lot to offer – they should be confident enough in their craft to
not need a government created advantage.
On Monday, Governor Walker signed our bill and Wisconsin joined the 21
other states that have banned or enacted substantial reform to
government mandated PLA laws.
It’s laws like 2017 Wisconsin Act 3 that show Wisconsin is truly
open for business!
2017-19 State Budget Update
The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) is holding their
sixth and final public hearing on the
proposed 2017-19 state budget tomorrow, April 21st from
10:00 AM until 5:00 PM at
Marinette High School.
The co-chairs of the
Joint Finance Committee are tentatively planning for the
committee to start taking votes on the 2017-19 state budget on May 1st.