The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, March 28, 2014

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman

GOP politics steers road money

LANSING – Despite holding every lever of power in the state capital, Michigan’s Republican lawmakers, last month were utterly unable – even with help from Dems – to find a way to substantially increase road repair money during this election year. The Michigan Department of Transportation has been calling for an increase in road spending of at least $1.7 billion per year.

But the GOP lawmakers were johnny-on-the-spot when it came to taking credit for where the small amount of road repair money is being spent – which is mostly in Republican-controlled districts.
State lawmakers did manage to allocate $230 million for road repairs this year. Half of those projects were announced last December , and a list of the other half, amounting to 124 projects around the state, was released July 3. The news service MIRS said that only 12 percent of the projects fell in Democratic Senate districts, while 87 percent are in Republican districts. The other way to break it down: 27 percent of the 124 projects fall in Democrat House Districts while 68 percent fall in Republican districts.

The allocation brought this statement from House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall). “Although roads and bridges shouldn’t be a political issue, some people repeatedly rush to political calculations. That may mean something to people in Lansing, but the people who work hard every day in our communities just want their roads fixed.”

The Michigan Department of Transportation has an ongoing five-year plan to lay out how the road money should be spent. It wasn’t completely ignored, but it wasn’t followed either. Dems cried foul play.

“We’re not happy with how they were chosen,” said Bob McCann, spokesman for the Senate Democrats. “These were projects that were supposed to be run through the formula and weren’t.”

House again backs prevailing wage law 

WASHINGTON (PAI) – By a 181-239 vote, the GOP-run U.S. House once again defeated a GOP Right Winger’s scheme to cut construction workers’ wages by killing the Davis-Bacon prevailing wage law.

The July 10 vote on the anti-Davis-Bacon amendment by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, saw 46 Republicans defect from the party line and join 193 Democrats to beat King’s plan.

Construction unions, which lobbied against King’s amendment to a spending bill for energy and public works, lauded lawmakers.  “North America’s building trades unions are pleased that a significant and bi-partisan majority in the House, including 46 Republicans, today recognized the inherent value of the Davis-Bacon Act in protecting community wage and benefit standards in construction,” said Building Trades President Sean McGarvey.

“The Davis-Bacon Act is sound and proven public policy,” he explained.  “In the absence of prevailing wage laws, contractors do not compete on the basis of who can best train, best equip and best manage a construction crew.  Instead, they compete on the basis of who can find the cheapest and most exploitable workers, either locally or by importing labor from elsewhere.  We sincerely appreciate the fact that a strong bi-partisan majority in the House agrees with this common-sense reasoning.”