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Lawmakers Tussle Over Prevailing Wage

A debate over the state’s prevailing wage law is simmering in Frankfort.


Kentucky law requires contractors to pay workers what’s called a “prevailing wage” on state and local projects that top $250,000, but Republican lawmakers in Frankfort argue setting the wage would be a job better left to the private sector.

At a hearing Tuesday covered by cn|2 Pure Politics, proponents of prevailing wage, such as State Representative Rick Rand, argued the rule translates to better work and injects more money back into the economy.

"This is a policy question and we make these policy decisions every day. As a matter of fact, just this past year we gave the bourbon industry a huge tax credit. Why shouldn't it be the policy of this state that we put money in the hands of working people?" Rand asked. 

State Senator and candidate for Lt. Gov. Chris McDaniel pointed to the increased costs involved.

"What you've got to remember is when you increase the wages like this, it also decreases the number of projects you can do. So it decreases the total number of jobs that are available," he said.

It’s a debate that often splits lawmakers in Frankfort along party lines. And McDaniel says it could surface on the Senate side during upcoming 30-day legislative session if party leaders decide to make it a priority.

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