Scott Walker Will Repeal Prevailing Wage, Living Wage Laws

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker stuck his foot in his mouth earlier this year when he asserted that the state's minimum wage is a "living wage" which did not need to be raised.

Among the many horrible, terrible provisions added to the state budget the governor is poised to sign is a provision that will replace all mentions of "living wage" with "minimum wage."

The 11th-hour additions include a repeal of wage protections for construction workers on local government projects, the elimination of workers’ right to one day off per week, loosened regulations over payday lenders, and a provision to expedite approval for a tar sands pipeline that would bisect the state. Another change made over the Fourth of July weekend eliminates the state’s long-standing living wage law and replaces all references to a “living wage” with “minimum wage.”

Walker will never be forced to say "living wage" ever again.

We can point and laugh at that particular provision, and I certainly have, but this is not a funny budget; it's a trainwreck.

The repeal of wage protections for construction workers, otherwise known as Prevailing Wage, may be the most consequential and disastrous provision of the budget.

We discussed this several months ago when it was first proposed, but repealing Prevailing Wage laws will encourage local governments to outsource labor.

Under current conditions, local governments are required to pay contractors the same wage whether they are brought in from out of state or down the street. If the Prevailing Wage law is repealed by Governor Walker, however, local governments will be allowed to pay outsourced labor less money than their local counterparts.

There is at least one provision in the state budget the governor may veto, but it's not clear yet if he will.

One issue Walker is being urged to veto is a measure that would allow payday lenders to provide more services, such as insurance, annuities and financial advice.

"As written, (the provision) creates an unlimited scope of authority for payday lenders not given to any other financial institution," says a letter to Walker sent Friday by a coalition of business groups.

"It permits payday lenders to engage in any business they wish as long as they obtain a license, if one is necessary. ... No other financial institution has that kind of unlimited authority."

As we've been over several times before, the budget will also cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the public University of Wisconsin system while diverting money to private schools.

Walker is expected to sign the budget prior to Monday when he is expected to formally announce his presidential campaign. Walker will do for America what he has done for Wisconsin.