SACRAMENTO, CA - Assemblywoman Shannon Grove testified today before the Assembly Labor & Employment committee, presenting two bills designed to improve California's flawed construction wage laws and encourage job creation. AB 987 and 988 were authored to comprehensively reform state laws requiring contractors to pay specific wage rates, known as "prevailing wage," on public construction projects.
"The reforms in these bills are bold and significant steps to reviving our dire economy and putting Californians back to work," Grove stated. "Forcing citizens to pay amounts for projects beyond what the local free market would otherwise dictate is a misuse of taxpayer dollars. Unfortunately, the powerful union interests benefit at this taxpayer expense."
Prevailing wage, initially designed to only impact public projects, has crept into many developments that a reasonable person would consider private, such as home construction or business expansion. Grove sought to repeal many of these provisions, as well as modify the way prevailing wage rates are determined.
In support of Grove's bills was Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC), a construction trade association that is expert in state prevailing wage policy. "Few Californians realize how an obscure and complicated law about state-mandated construction wage rates is discouraging economic recovery in the construction industry and for the state as a whole," said Kevin Dayton of ABC, who testified in support of Grove's bills. "These bills were comprehensive proposals to reform laws that set artificially high wage rates for construction which benefit a few construction workers at the expense of many unemployed construction workers. Unfortunately, the Democrat majority in the legislature proved once again that they prioritize the union agenda over economic growth and job creation."
Under the state's current methods of calculating construction wage rates and determining where these rates apply, Kern County and other rural parts of California are losing significant opportunities for new government construction and private commercial and industrial development. The artificially increased cost of state-mandated construction wage rates plays a substantial role in this economic crisis. "There is no reason why residents in Kern County should have to pay the same for public works as those in San Francisco or Los Angeles," explained Grove. "These bills would have given local governments the right to decide what their own prevailing wage rates should be given their cost of living and local market conditions. However, shown by today's vote, the Democrats seem content with big-government policies that hinder economic growth and private sector job creation."
Both bills failed to pass committee on a 5-2, party-line vote.