Op-Ed

Right-to-work law, repeal of prevailing wage will boost Kentucky’s economy

Tom Underwood
Tom Underwood

Change is never easy, but sometimes it’s necessary. That’s why I want to thank the General Assembly and Gov. Matt Bevin for passing right-to-work legislation and repealing our outdated prevailing wage law.

One look at the protestors crowding the Capitol last weekend tells you that a lot of people disagree, but I believe both bills are in Kentucky’s best interest and will make things better for Kentucky’s working families.

The fact of the matter is that Kentucky’s economy has changed and will continue to change for many years to come. Coal isn’t the force that it was a generation ago. We can’t neglect the coalfields, but, at the same time, we have to do everything we can to position the state to attract new industries and new jobs.

Becoming a right-to-work state and repealing prevailing wage are important steps in the right direction.

The legislation signed into law this weekend are going to make us more competitive when it comes to attracting and keeping jobs. It’s as simple as that.

Kentucky is the 27th state in the union — and the last state in the South — to pass right-to-work. 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 to right-to-work states like Alabama, Tennessee and Indiana. We need to attract more businesses to strengthen our economy and create more opportunities for working families 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.

They are helping us build a stronger economy that’s ultimately going to benefit all of us.

Tom Underwood is Kentucky state director of the National Federation of Independent Business. Reach him at tom.underwood@NFIB.org.

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