Senate committee meets, remains uncertain on fate of prevailing wage

Missouri’s Senate Interim Committee on Labor Reform on Wednesday reviewed a report on the state’s prevailing wage law and heard more than two hours of testimony about the law from a group including mayors, laborers and activists.

The committee was formed to gather information and come to a decision about if and how the state legislature should repeal the law, which establishes a minimum wage that must be paid to workers on public works projects in the state.

The committee’s chair, Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, discussed data from the report, saying that about 85 percent of public works projects on the local level are under $500,000 and most of the projects are for local governments and colleges.

Schatz feels that rather than completely repealing the law, he would rather amend the law so that prevailing wage would only be in effect on projects over $500,000. States like Wisconsin, Arkansas, Maryland, Nevada, and New Mexico have similar laws. According to his findings, even though there are significantly more projects under that threshold, they account for less than 10 percent of the total cost of public works projects. He believes that such a reform could lower taxes for Missourians.

Some believe that the public’s money can best be spent without a prevailing wage at all. However, others argue that prevailing wage helps businesses and employees.

Read more: The Missouri Times

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