Indiana common wage repeal would be shortsighted

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As a CPA, business owner for 19 years, taxpayer and leader of the Indiana Mason Contractors Association, I have a unique viewpoint on House Bill 1019 to repeal Indiana’s common construction wage law.

As a conservative Republican, I supported repeal in 1995 when the Legislature debated the issue because of the substantial savings to taxpayers that would supposedly result.

Supporters of HB 1019 suggest taxpayers would save 10 percent to 20 percent on all public projects if the law is repealed. Unfortunately, this isn’t supported by the facts. Labor costs, on average, represent only 23 percent of total project costs and this makes it impossible to achieve the cost savings HB 1019 supporters promise.

What I didn’t understand in 1995 that I do now is that the 4,000 contractors of the union construction industry provide over 80 percent of the apprentice training in the state. They also provide not only a living wage but also health insurance and pension benefits for their employees. And the 75,000 union construction members and their families contribute to the property tax base of their townships and pay over $21 million of state and local taxes.

Together, they administer a drug testing program and OSHA safety classes that ensure safe workplaces. All of this will be jeopardized if HB 1019 passes.

Lastly, more than 90 percent of public projects are done by Indiana companies. It is a law that has served Indiana well and should not be repealed.

Paul Nysewander,
executive director, Indiana Mason Contractors Association

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