Restoring the Place We Belong
Take me home,
To the place I belong
Take me home,
These lyrics made West Virginia famous around the world for its beauty and hospitality, but especially for our amazing country roads. And for decades, our beloved state really did have wonderful and well-maintained roads and highways that afforded citizens and visitors alike the opportunity to experience our beautiful state. But now, in 2020, our roads and bridges are deteriorating. Our state is having a hard time keeping up with just deferred maintenance, much less the creation of the many miles of new roadways needed to grow our economy. So, what’s happening to our Mountain Mama?
West Virginia Roads
Despite our state’s small footprint, West Virginia has the 6th greatest mileage of roads in the nation. While federal dollars are a large piece of the funding puzzle for our Interstate system and a few major highways, West Virginia must maintain and update many miles of state and local roads. State funds for important road and bridge work, sadly, are stretched thin.
So, what can be done to restore West Virginia’s roads and bridges? If we are looking for a wise use of taxpayer dollars in funding the construction and maintenance of roadways all across America, the federal government sets the best example. Federal guidelines for highway and bridge work require that workers are paid a fair wage, based on a regional survey of rates for their particular level of skill and experience. You and I might call it the going rate but those who work in these fields call it the prevailing wage.
Developing Skilled local Workers
The effectiveness of the prevailing wage in attracting the best workers and producing the highest-quality work product has been demonstrated over and over in state after state. Ultimately, the prevailing wage delivers more bang for the taxpayer’s buck.
Not only does a prevailing wage guarantee the usage of the most skilled workers and most efficient use of our tax dollars, it ensures that local workers get first crack at taxpayer-funded highway and infrastructure projects. Skilled local workers, who do the job quickly and efficiently, pay local taxes and spend their paychecks in their home states. That’s a boon for taxpayers, businesses and local communities.
States that have a Prevailing Wage Law are prospering – it’s as simple as that. West Virginia should follow suit. Unfortunately, in 2016, the West Virginia Legislature repealed our state’s Prevailing Wage Law with disastrous results. Now, all we have to show for it are decaying roads and a weak economy. Meanwhile, those alleged tax savings the “repealers” of the law promised have never materialized.
West Virginia Should Restore of Prevailing Wage Law
However, there is hope. West Virginians are talking, asking questions and voicing their support for the restoration of the Prevailing Wage Law. They know this law is a game changer for each and every one of us. One that can improve our lives with better roads, better healthcare and more opportunities for employment. We can be among those states with an enviable economy, one that retains its best and brightest and provides a standard of living worthy of its citizens. By restoring the prevailing wage, we can restore our highways and bridges and the country roads that take us all home to the place where we belong.