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Are Your Tax Dollars Being Spent Responsibly?

There is a way to be sure

Check your news feed or pick up a newspaper and you’re sure to find a story about some huge federal or state project with price tags so large that you can hardly wrap your mind around the figures.  Other than generalized descriptions of these projects, we find that the media offers us very little information about them. We never really get a clear picture of how our tax dollars are being spent. 

Are our tax dollars being used wisely?

In West Virginia alone, billions of tax dollars are spent each year on public works projects that include local roads, bridges and schools and other public buildings. But there are some very dismaying facts about this spending. 

First of all, many of these projects are being awarded to out of state companies, some of which have been caught cheating and not paying proper West Virginia state income and employment taxes. Adding insult to injury, these same companies import low-wage, low-skilled workers from as far away as South America to staff jobs that should go to local state residents.  Then, adding blow upon bruise, these imported workers take their paychecks back to their respective home states and countries, instead of spending their wages here in West Virginia. That means our local economies get zero benefit from the very public works projects for which our local tax dollars paid. Meanwhile, local workers can’t find a job. Crazy, right?

How can this happen?

Well, with public works projects, the lowest dollar bid gets the job. Of course, that sounds good on the surface, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find the truth.  Public project contracts are supposed to be awarded to the lowest-cost, “responsible” bidder.   The key word here is “responsible.”  Don’t we all want our tax dollars spent responsibly? Do responsible companies employ low- wage, imported workers while passing over qualified, skilled local workers? Of course not. Would a responsible company skirt our tax laws and then skip town? Would a responsible company deprive its workers of healthcare coverage and, in turn, overburden and penalize our struggling local community hospitals?

The answer to all of these is just as you think: an emphatic no!  A responsible company pays a fair wage and hires locally. A responsible company pays its taxes and supports the community in which it works and from which it draws its income.

Unfortunately, in 2016, with little study, the West Virginia Legislature foolishly repealed a law that ensured that our taxes would be spent responsibly. They repealed a law that  required companies to pay a fair wage. They repealed a law that ensured that taxpayers get the best bang for their buck with top quality work. And they repealed a law that directly benefited our local communities. And now, what do we have to show for it? Record unemployment, West Virginia’s towns and cities going broke, our best and brightest leaving our state in droves and rural hospitals closing left and right.

Restore Prevailing Wage Law

Fortunately, we can turn this all around by restoring our Prevailing Wage Law.  This law, that eliminated the race to the bottom that repeal has brought us, can return us to responsible management of our tax dollars and restore a vibrant economy here in West Virginia.

Simply put, the Prevailing Wage Law guarantees that workers are paid a fair wage, based on a regional survey of rates for their particular level of skill and experience, the “going rate” as it were.  We have witnessed the effectiveness of prevailing wage in attracting the best workers and producing the highest quality work in countless states around the country.

Ultimately, prevailing wage delivers more value to taxpayers and eliminates fly-by-night, out-of-state companies who use low-wage, imported workers to game the bidding process and edge out responsible companies who bid on tax-funded public works projects in good faith.

Your Tax Dollars Should Stay Local!

Not only does prevailing wage guarantee the most efficient use of tax dollars, it ensures that local workers get first crack at taxpayer-fund public works projects. Skilled local workers do the job quickly and efficiently, pay local taxes and spend their paychecks here at home in local shops, grocery stores and other businesses. That’s a boon for taxpayers, businesses and local communities. 

The time to stay silent is over. West Virginians are beginning to see the negative effects of the repeal of our Prevailing Wage Law and are calling for its restoration. You can help restore prevailing wage and move West Virginia forward by signing our petition. Please get on board and help us restore prevailing wage to Restore West Virginia!