LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Prevailing wage wrong for Delaware

In reading all the budget stories these past few weeks with all the wrangling back and forth between opposing sides of what to and what not to cut, the biggest sticking point for the Democrats seemed to be the prevailing wage, and it baffles me as to why.

The Democrats argued it helped the middle class. Please explain. As a middle-class taxpayer, how does my paying someone an outrageous hourly salary help me in any way? Would you pay an electrician $65/hour, $135k yearly, or a painter $46/hour, $91k yearly, or a laborer $43/hour, $89k yearly, to work on your house? Of course not. You’re going to put the bid out for the job and look for the best value for your buck.

This is exactly what the state should be doing. Don’t misunderstand; I’m neither pro nor anti-union. They have done an excellent job in keeping companies doing what’s right for the worker, and they are to be applauded for it. But I see the prevailing wage as harmful to the middle class.

Years ago, when Delaware 1 was being constructed, there was difficulty in hiring truck drivers to work on the south end of the project in Kent County because the prevailing wage was higher in New Castle County. No one wanted to cross the line because the difference in pay. The state says the prevailing wage is to give the unions the opportunity to compete. You have competition in the free market. You compete like everyone else. You either have the better bargain or you don’t.

Can you imagine what would happen if the prevailing wage rates were applied to any construction project over $100k within the state? How much would the cost increase on new home construction? New home construction would plummet and the middle class would shrink to an even smaller group than current because there would be fewer jobs available due to a reduction in private construction.

For Speaker Schwartzkopf and the rest of the Democratic elite to not consider discussion on the prevailing wage is not in the best interest of the people of the state of Delaware, which is your job. Best value for the dollar.

We haven’t seen that in years and we’re not likely to see it for a while still. You’ve just about gotten all the blood out of the turnip and there’s nowhere else to turn. Perhaps you could slap another fee or tax on the casinos … oh wait, the last administration already established that process to suck them dry too and the present one is still on the teat. At some point, it’s time to be weaned.

Prevailing wage, in my opinion, is nothing more than yet another example of government cronyism. If state contracts were bid out at a reasonable but not overly inflated prevailing wage rate, the state would save money that could be used elsewhere so the government would not need to be cutting programs so drastically.

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Remember that on Election Day.

Jerry Clifton
Felton

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