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House kills prevailing wage for public projects

State House Bureau

February 11. 2016 9:37PM

CONCORD — The House killed an attempt to require that workers receive the prevailing wage on all state construction projects.

House Bill 1641 was killed on a vote of 181-138.

Supporters argued the bill would put more money into the state’s economy and boost wages for local workers without increasing the cost of projects.

“Workers should want to work here and stay here and build our own economy, not some other state’s economy,” said the bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. Jacalyn Cilley, D-Barrington.

She and others claimed the bill would end the practice of unscrupulous out-of-state contractors underbidding New Hampshire companies for the work if they all had to pay the same wages.

“Credible research shows that at least 1,700 jobs would be created by enacting a prevailing wage law, along with nearly $300 million in increased economic activity,” said Rep. Douglas Ley, D-Jaffrey. “As the only New England state without a prevailing wage law, we are missing an opportunity to rebuild and enhance our own economy.”

But opponents said the bill would have the opposite effect, costing the state more money to do projects.

Rep. Jack Flanagan, R-Brookline, said the bill would boost administrative costs by an estimated $2.6 million.

“We can’t afford to spend more money on these construction projects when we are barely fixing the roads and bridges we have now,” he said.

He said the bill would mean less money for contracts and more money for administration.

“This is not a good bill and does not solve the problems it wants to solve,” Flanagan said.

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