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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Defense of Davis-Bacon not convincing

There is nothing new in Jake Castanza’s recent letter to the editor defending federal Davis Bacon prevailing-wage law. We can look at Wisconsin’s experience with the repeal of its state prevailing-wage law as evidence for this point.

Castanza asserts that repealing Davis Bacon would result in less investment in training and more unskilled workers. According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s most recent complete-year statistics, construction apprenticeship enrollment in the state is at a 10-year high in the years after full repeal took place.

Castanza asserts that repealing Davis Bacon will result in more contractors coming to Wisconsin to do work from places like his home state of Illinois. In fact, a look at successful bidders for Wisconsin state projects since prevailing wage was repealed has not shown any significant uptick in out-of-state contractors winning bids. The informed readers of the Daily Reporter have seen numerous stories about Wisconsin contractors being the sole bidder on public projects in a post-prevailing-wage world.

Castanza assets that supporters of Davis Bacon repeal are extreme outliers. In Wisconsin, every legislator that voted to repeal Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law who ran for re-election was re-elected. Every one. At the federal level, Wisconsin’s congressional delegation already has three repeal supporters (Sen. Ron Johnson and Reps. Tom Tiffany and Glenn Grothman), and a fourth is expected to join them this fall (state Sen. Scott Fitzgerald.)

Castanza is right about one thing, although it isn’t in the text of his article. By coming to Wisconsin, he is part of the nearly 300 people a day leaving the failed state of Illinois to take advantage of greater economic opportunities in other states. In Wisconsin, WILL has championed several of the significant policy reforms that over the past decade have promoted free-market solutions that have provided greater educational opportunities to all Wisconsin children and reformed government to provide better service at a low cost to taxpayers. WILL’s recent study of Davis Bacon shows that repeal would continue Wisconsin’s successes at the federal level.

Will Flanders
Research Director
Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty

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