ROADS/BRIDGES: Pa. House considers cutting wages to fund transpo bill

Measure could generate up to $2.4 billion, but support is shaky

October 22, 2013

If you want to spend more money, you need to take away somebody’s spending money.

That seems to be the logic spilling out of Pennsylvania, as lawmakers consider a bill that would cut the wages on some state construction jobs in order to raise $2.2 billion to $2.4 billion for transportation. In a statement, the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors said any changes would apply to heavy construction, not the building trades.

House Republicans are still hesitant to pass a transportation-spending bill, and unions are divided on the idea, which could affect the Democrat vote. House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D-Oakmont) said he was not willing to change the existing law that “protects the pay of workers who construct and maintain buildings and infrastructure all over the state.”

The bill, sponsored by Rep. David Millard, applies the 1961 Prevailing Wage state law to public projects above $100,000. The current floor is $25,000, and projects above the current threshold in urban areas are subject to higher union rates even if they are nonunion projects.

PennDOT spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick said the state funded 17 projects at $100,000 or less last year.

The Senate approved a $2.5 billion transportation-spending bill in June, but the Pennsylvania House has yet to give the green light on any measure that would fund road and bridge projects.