Who Is Behind the Next Wage Cuts In Wisconsin?

Posted: January 28, 2015
Updated: February 5, 2015

A Republican lawmaker intends to introduce legislation that would repeal Wisconsin’s state and local prevailing wage laws. These laws require that companies with state contracts pay their workers on those contracts a wage equal to what the majority of workers in that industry earn in that area.

The measure is sponsored by Rep. Rob Hutton of Brookfield, and it matches the agenda of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a special interest bill mill that hawks pro-business economic and social policy proposals to state legislators around the country.

Hutton’s proposal is very similar to prevailing wage legislation put forward by ALEC, a group created in the 1970s and made up of powerful special interests and state legislators to create and exchange model legislation that can be introduced in statehouses across the country. Both Hutton and ALEC say that prevailing wage laws inflate wages and cost the taxpayers money.

The proposed prevailing wage repeal is the latest in a continuing string of legislative proposals, ranging from business tax cuts to voter identification, that have been introduced in the past four years by the GOP-controlled Wisconsin Legislature. In recent years, a large number of Wisconsin’s GOP legislators have reportedly had ties to ALEC.

Hutton is president of Rock Transfer & Storage in Milwaukee, a non-union trucking and storage company that does business throughout the Midwest. Hutton’s top special interest contributors include manufacturers, which have contributed $6,300 to his campaign since 2012 when he was elected to the Assembly.

P.S.  On Feb. 5, Hutton added the following clarification to his bill:  "Having received further insight from Legislative Counsel, we have redrafted the bill to clearly outline our original intent that the repeal of Wisconsin's prevailing wage law will prohibit local units of government from creating their own prevailing wage laws or similar ordinances."