The senate hopes it has ended years of futility with its passage of a prevailing wage bill. The prevailing wage is calculated for public works projects in each county, based on wages paid for union and non-union workers. Many counties don’t report the wages paid private employees while unions are good at reporting their wages. Backers of the bill say many of Missouri’s counties are doing few public works projects because the higher union wages become the prevailing wage and local officials decide not to spend that much tax money.
The bill started out with more than the prevailing wage in it. But Sen. Ryan McKenna (D-Crystal City) warned that all the senate’s work on the issue would be futile if it refused to eliminate some troublesome language.
The “troublesome language” tried to define “maintenance,” a word that McKenna says has given states and the federal government fits trying to define. Sponsor of the bill, Sen. Dan Brown (R-Rolla) finally came back with acceptable wording allowing a party-line favorable vote.
The Senate hopes the House accepts its changes and sends the bill to the governor.