CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A repeal of West Virginia’s 81-year-old Prevailing Wage Act is headed to the governor, after passing the Senate Thursday on a party-line 18-16 vote.
Passage of the repeal bill (HB 4005) followed more than an hour of impassioned debate, during which eight Democrats spoke against the bill but did not sway the single vote needed to defeat the bill away from the Republican majority.
Several accused the Legislature of wasting time on divisive, partisan issues when the state is facing major budget deficits and crises in road building, job creation and health care.
“I would submit that we continue to fiddle, while ignoring the real problems affecting the lives of the citizens of West Virginia,” said Sen. Bill Laird, D-Fayette, alluding to the Roman emperor Nero, who supposedly played the fiddle while his city burned.
Others disputed the premise that the repeal will increase the number of state-funded construction projects and create more jobs — particularly when they repeatedly were rebuffed by leadership on requests for economic impact studies or fiscal notes from affected state agencies to assess the impact of repeal.
“We’re saying the reason we don’t have good-quality jobs is because we’re paying our workers too much,” said Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley.
Advocates of the bill said the current economy is evidence that prevailing wage is not working…