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Common Ground on Common Construction Wage

For the most part this legislative session, I’ve been pretty agnostic on the issue of repealing Indiana’s Common Construction Wage (CCW) law.

For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a law that allows local governments to set prevailing wages on public construction projects.  It’s been around since the early part of the last century.  Opponents say it increases the price of public projects by as much as 20-25%.   Supporters say it guarantees fair wages and quality assurance on public projects.

I have friends on both sides of the issue and both can make compelling cases for their positions, which is why I think the solution literally does lie somewhere in the middle.  Allow me to offer it.

The free market capitalist in me says lawmakers should move forward with repealing the CCW, but give local governments a lot more flexibility in the bidding process, preferably the same flexibility the private sector has.   A free market only works when both the buyer and seller can take advantage of it.

Right now under current law, if my memory serves me correctly, local governments must accept the lowest, responsive bid, which means the lowest bidder who can post a bond gets the work.  I argue, change that to the lowest, responsible bidder. That way, we can balance fiscal prudence with quality work.

We’ve all heard stories about someone who tried to do something on the cheap and all it did was end up costing more money in long haul.  There’s no reason taxpayers should have to suffer through that either.  They also shouldn’t have to suffer with increased costs of public projects.

This is why I think as lawmakers go forward with figuring out what to do with CCW, they might want to look at my suggestions.

 There is common ground, the question is will either side be willing to head in that direction.

  • malercous

    As a staunch supporter of unions & the working class I believe that people ought to be paid fair wages. That said, as a taxpayer, I’d like my tax Dollars to be spent efficiently as well. In the STL/SW IL area the prevailing union wage for laborers (not skilled) is around $30/hr., which is a tad high, even considering the workers don’t receive benefits from the companies they work for.
    I could see finding common ground on this issue with you Abdul. Which is why, as I’ve said since SLU, that you’re not a real Republican. You can actually be reasonable.

  • http://russsays.wordpress.com/ Russ Ray

    Tying any governmental entity’s hands and forcing them to take the lowest bid instead of the best solution is bad government all the way around. I just got out of an IT project with the Indiana Secretary of State’s office, and they spent over a year and at least a half million dollars to accomplish nothing. The vendor (from Connecticut) knew if they came in with the lowest bid that they would probably win, but what they didn’t tell the state was that they could only hit that mark if they weren’t working full time on the project, which got further and further behind until they got audited by Office of Technology after 6 months and the plug got pulled.

    Meanwhile, better consultants such as Deloitte that might have been more expensive, yet more provided a better solution and used more local labor, got left on the sidelines so the snake oil salesmen from out east charmed SOS into a bad deal.

  • Bill

    Selecting the “lowest, responsible” bidder is a standard requirement for government owners to adhere to but then the criteria of “responsible” needs to be defined for bidders to know before they submit a bid and for the government entity to use in the selection process after bids are received. The criteria for government construction projects typically used for a bidder to be “responsible” is years in business, safety record, years of experience and number of projects in the type and magnitude of construction that the particular project is for, and the ability to obtain a performance and payment bond. There could be more but the important thing is the criteria must be objective and clear for the government entity to evaluate after bids are received in case an unsuccessful bidder, or the public, disputes the selection process.