During the past legislative session, Governor Corbett and Republican lawmakers repudiated the tax and spend policies of the previous administration which in turn, chartered a new course towards fiscal responsibility. Expanding upon the successes of the last two years, a group of State House members have introduced legislation to end the commonwealth’s compulsory unionism. Right-to-work labor reform is critical to giving workers choice as to whether or not they wish to join a union while providing a much needed boost for the state’s economy.
Letter to the Editor: Lancaster New Era Newspaper
Union President Wendell Young IV wants the public to believe that government-run state liquor stores are working. Young asserts that the government monopoly represents a cash cow for state coffers. He argues that liquor privatization will cease to generate revenues for the treasury.
Liquor store union boss Wendell Young IV claims liberation from a government monopoly will jeopardize public safety. It’s just his latest misrepresentation of the facts to save his nearly $300,000 salary and benefits package he makes off the backs of Pennsylvania workers and taxpayers.
Motorists frustrated with high gas prices should be on the alert- your pain at the pump could get worse, and it has nothing to do with Middle East tensions or gas company profits.
Sadly, many in the transportation industry and some lawmakers in Pennsylvania believe the only way to fix our roads is to increase gasoline taxes and charge drivers more in vehicle fees. This low-octane loser is surely another wrong exit for taxpayers whose tank is already on empty.
To be certain, Pennsylvania’s roads and bridges need repair. But before taking one more dollar from working men and women through higher prices at the gas pump, lawmakers must do a better job spending the billions in taxes and fees they already get.
Fiscal responsibility entails not only cutting wasteful spending, but even more importantly, includes the implementation of government reforms that prioritize taxpayer dollars. The Republican leadership deserves credit for producing their second sustainable budget, but in a time when lawmakers are asking school districts and local governments to do more with less funding, there must be a focus on enabling local officials with the ability to do so.
Recognizing this necessity, Rep. Fred Keller (Snyder/Union) introduced House Bill 1329 to alleviate the costly prevailing wage laws on construction and renovation projects. The bill would effectively ease the financial burden for schools and municipalities while protecting taxpayers and promoting job creation. Unfortunately, there have been significant delays in the path to reform in Harrisburg. It is absolutely essential that Pennsylvania’s taxpayers urge their Representatives to vote in favor of HB 1329.
The Commonwealth’s prevailing wage laws were enacted more than a half a century ago with the intent of protecting construction workers from out-of-state competition. The law requires local government to pay a mandated wage for construction projects exceeding $25,000. Straying far from its original intent, prevailing wage is responsible for increased labor costs upwards of 30 to 75 percent. This effectively adds more than 20 percent or $2 billion a year in extra construction costs.
In response, The Pennsylvania School Board Association (PSABA) testified before the General Assembly. They asserted that the prevailing wage law is “one of the most burdensome mandates imposed on school districts.” A PSBA representative explained that wage requirements take away resources that could be utilized to develop educational programs or provide property tax relief. The PSBA supports an outright repeal of the costly wage law.
In an interview with Rep. Keller, he proclaimed that his legislation is a compromise bill. Instead of repealing prevailing wage altogether, HB 1329 is designed to raise the minimum threshold to $185,000, accounting for inflation for the past 50 years. Rep. Keller argued that raising the threshold should not be deemed controversial, but rather common sense. The Union County lawmaker reasoned that the 1961 law exempted small-scale projects and that the $25,000 threshold in today’s prices no longer provides a meaningful exemption.
The reform measure has garnered substantial support from the PA State Association of Township Supervisors and Boroughs in addition to business interests throughout the state, but the compromise bill remains stalled in the State House. The bill, which was successfully reported out of committee for consideration this fall and scheduled for a vote last week, has been postponed yet again. Rep. Keller shared that the vote count is in the mid 90s, just shy of a 102 member majority, and there is a great possibility for the bill to receive a House vote shortly after the April primary elections.
It is vitally important that the General Assembly pass HB 1329 in order to provide schools and local government the relief they need from an antiquated and costly mandate. The reform measure will more efficiently spend taxpayer money, thereby reducing property tax increases. This savings can then be allocated towards additional construction and renovation projects, which will create more jobs.