COLUMN: Right-to-Work, Prevailing Wage Repeal Will Benefit State’s Economy

Date: February 12, 2016 Last Edit: February 17, 2016

NFIB/West Virginia State Director wrote in the Feb. 12 Charleston Gazette-Mail that passing right-to-work and repealing the state’s prevailing wage law will create new opportunities for small business:
Change is never easy, but sometimes it’s necessary. That’s why I want to thank the state Legislature for passing right-to-work legislation and repealing our outdated prevailing wage law.
I know a lot of people disagree — I don’t think I can remember a more emotional issue to come before our elected officials — but I believe both votes were in West Virginia’s best interest, and I’d like to explain why:
Our economy isn’t what it used to be. Coal isn’t the powerhouse it was a generation ago.
President Obama was on the news the other day saying that the unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in years, but West Virginia’s is still one of the highest in the country — 6.3 percent in January. The only states with higher jobless rates are Nevada, Mississippi, Alaska and New Mexico.
West Virginia deserves better. Our children deserve better and grandchildren deserve better.
Becoming a right-to-work state and repealing prevailing wage are going to make us more competitive when it comes to attracting and keeping jobs. It’s as simple as that.
Once the Legislature overrides the governor’s promised veto of Senate Bill 1, we will be the 26th right-to-work state in the union. That’s important, because it’s one of the things employers look for when they’re deciding to build factories or add jobs.
Without it, employers would continue to ignore us and look south to right-to-work states like Virginia and the Carolinas. We can’t afford that. We need to attract more businesses to West Virginia in order to strengthen our economy and create more opportunities for small businesses.
Prevailing wage hasn’t gotten as much attention, but it’s just as important, because it goes a long way toward assuring fair and open competition on publicly funded construction projects.
Our current prevailing wage law acts as a “super minimum wage” that allows unelected government bureaucrats to set wages that are often much higher than local construction wages determined by fair competition in the free market.
That isn’t fair to the taxpayers who, ultimately, wind up paying these inflated wages.
By repealing this antiquated law, we’ll not only save taxpayers money, but we’ll end a practice that often shuts out small and minority contractors from participating in the bidding process for local projects.
In other words, we’ll create more opportunities for jobs.
Our elected officials usually hear from the folks back home only when they want to complain about something. That’s why I want to thank those who voted “yes” on right-to-work and repealing the prevailing wage.
You’re helping us build a stronger economy that’s ultimately going to benefit all of us.

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