For immediate release:
May 6, 2015
INDIANAPOLIS - State Rep. David Niezgodski (D-South Bend) today issued the following statement after Gov. Mike Pence signed a repeal of Indiana’s common construction wage law:
“Now that yet another restriction has been removed from our state’s economic development engine, I look forward to seeing unending announcements of new projects that will save the taxpayers of Indiana millions and put thousands of Hoosiers to work with good-paying jobs.
“You know, just like what happened when a Republican-controlled state government repealed our right-to-work law.
“Except, of course, that didn’t happen. Jobs may have been created, but they didn’t pay that much, and our state’s average household income continued a descent that has been the norm since 1990. It’s gone down by $6,500 since then.
“The signing of this valueless law will do nothing to help. It will hurt. It is a slap in the face to not only our hard-working men and women, but Hoosier business owners and taxpayers as well.
“Let us be clear about what has been done here.
“The common construction wage created a stable work environment that paid good wages to working class Hoosiers. It ensured that local projects were done by Hoosier workers, so the wages they earned and the taxes they paid stayed right here in Indiana. It supported local job training programs that attracted and retained skilled Hoosier workers. It supported local building contractors, which benefited local economic activity.
“It was a system that worked for close to 80 years. It gave a $700 million boost to our economy.
“But it did not help the rich and powerful in our state. Money that went into the pockets of workers wasn’t going to them. So they took full advantage of having a governor and legislative supermajorities ready, willing and able to cater to them, and the common construction wage is no more.
“Now what do we have to look forward to? Projects that will be left in the hands of out-of-state contractors, who will bring in out-of-state workers to build them, taking our tax dollars with them when they leave.
“Since the dandy drafters of the repeal put no safeguards or enforcement mechanism in place to protect taxpayers, you can guarantee that builders of projects once covered by this law now will use substandard building materials manufactured in other countries and employ a handyman workforce, rather than the skilled craftsmen who have built our cities and towns the last 80 years. And it all will be at taxpayers’ expense.
“The damage being created here will be lasting. Our state already ranks 50th in personal income growth. The numbers of Hoosiers on middle incomes have decreased by nearly 10 percent, while the numbers of low income Hoosiers have increased by more than 20 percent. These are the folks who are going to suffer the most from the passage of this law.
“The middle class in Indiana is dying. By getting rid of the common construction wage, our governor and his Republican supermajorities have sped up the process.”