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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

 10:49 AM 

Dems question ABC president

Dems are questioning the president of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin, which commissioned a study prevailing wage repeal proponents use as justification for their position.

That Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance study found, among other things, flaws in the way the state calculates prevailing wages. It also suggested state and local governments could save millions on public projects if prevailing wages more accurately reflected market rates, particularly in northern and rural parts of Wisconsin.

"We believe Wisconsin's system of determining prevailing wage is fundamentally flawed," ABC President John Mielke said during testimony.

Labor Committee Dems pointed out several times that ABC commissioned the study, and Rep. Christine Sinicki, D-Milwaukee, said such studies tend to lean toward those who pay for them.

Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, compared the Taxpayers Alliance report to a Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo that showed, according to Mason, prevailing wage repeal would have "indeterminate or no state or local effect." Mason questioned why an association that represents businesses would support a bill that would drive down wages and the availability of laborers.

He also called Mielke's viewpoint a "deeply flawed assumption of cost saving, which Fiscal Bureau won't verify."

Mielke said he supports taxpayers paying market rates and that prevailing wages are inflated versions of those rates. He said his organization, which represents many nonunion companies, has been fighting prevailing wage laws for at least 20 years.

"We believe repealing prevailing wage is better for the taxpayer," Mielke said, citing anomalies and instances when unskilled workers make more under prevailing wage laws than skilled employees.



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