Prevailing wage law battle — been there, done that

Geoffrey Lawrence has penned an outstanding column for the Nevada Policy Research Institute website on Nevada’s insanely expensive prevailing wage law, using simple examples of how the taxpayer is gouged by this Depression Era anachronism.

Geoffrey Lawrence

His example in the lede of the piece is about how a plumber in Mesquite might expect to be paid less than $20 an hour for most jobs, but, if it is a public works project by a state or local government entity, that same plumber would be paid, by law, more than $70 an hour.

Lawrence’s piece points out that a recent NPRI analysis estimated that prevailing wage requirements cost Nevada taxpayers nearly $1 billion extra over 2009 and 2010. Remember, the state’s biennial budget is less than $7 billion. “That’s why prevailing wage reform needs to be at the top of the agenda for the Nevada Legislature in 2013,” Lawrence writes.

Good luck with that.

A.D. Hopkins

In 2000, A.D. Hopkins wrote a series of articles for the Las Vegas Review-Journal outlining the profligacy of the prevailing wage law. The lede on one of the earlier stories in the series read: “Nevada’s prevailing wage law costs taxpayers about $2.3 million extra on every new public high school being built in Clark County, according to a database analysis by the Review-Journal.”

A.D.’s stories also pointed out, like Lawrence’s column, how the prevailing wage is calculated and how it is rigged to always provide a wage that is union scale.

In a column, I asked, “Is the Review-Journal’s reporting on these matters going to change anything? After all, the shameless are not easily embarrassed into behaving.”

That was 12 years ago and the prevailing wage law is still on the books.

For a little historical perspective, the prevailing wage law is a vestige of the Jim Crow era and is modeled on the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 that was expressly intended to keep cheaper Southern black laborers from getting jobs on public works projects.

If lawmakers can’t bother to save taxpayers money, maybe they can be shamed as racists. It hasn’t worked yet. They still have no shame and no regard for the taxpayers’ welfare.

6 comments on “Prevailing wage law battle — been there, done that

  1. dave444 says:

    And what makes you think (if you do) that will change very soon? As long as you can buy votes the status will remain QUO. Perhaps when political donations are strictly limited to bona fide constituents that are living, (one person,one vote concept) we might get an honest election.

  2. […] there is the topic I have been fulminating about for decades, the 1937 prevailing wage law, which requires all public works projects in the state to pay wages based on a flawed survey of […]

  3. […] there is the topic I have been fulminating about for decades, the 1937 prevailing wage law, which requires all public works projects in the state to pay wages based on a flawed survey of […]

  4. […] the Las Vegas Review-Journal, long since disappeared from the paper’s website, outlining the profligacy of the prevailing wage law. The lede on one of the earlier stories in the series read: “Nevada’s prevailing wage law costs […]

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