Offering testimony April 14 in opposition to prevailing provisions of the budget, some in a group and some by themselves,
were Terry Estes, project manager for J & B Steel, a family owned-construction company in Hamilton; Tim Galvin,
CEO of Brexton Construction LLC; Howard Krisher, chairman of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Ohio;
Douy Mayse, vice president of Rieck Services, a mechanical services firm in Dayton; Sam Halker, vice chairman of
the Mechanical Contractors Association of Ohio; and J.K. Williams of Kirk Williams Co. in Grove City.
They asked that the prohibition on prevailing wage for schools, county hospitals and universities be removed from
the budget, as well as the increase in the threshold for requiring prevailing wage from $78,000 to $5 million. They
acknowledged that the general prevailing wage laws need to be revisited and reformed but asked that any changes
be taken up in separate legislation that will allow more time and deliberation. They also said that estimations that
prevailing wage significantly drive up construction costs are bogus, that prevailing wage helps maintain high
education and training standards for workers, and that passing the prevailing wage changes now in the budget
could lead skilled workers to leave for other states.
Rep. Burke said the negotiations that set prevailing wage pay levels “sounds like price fixing.” Krisher said wage
negotiations are done in the interest of containing costs and maintaining competitiveness with merit-shop
contractors, and said that while it results in one regional wage, that allows a level playing field on which companies
compete on such things as capitalization, technology and pre-fabrication abilities.
Rep. Mecklenborg asked if there is a more amenable number for the prevailing wage threshold than the $5 million
proposed in the budget. Krisher said he’d served on a construction reform panel that had discussed increasing the
threshold to somewhere in the $150,000 range. He also said that some $100,000 projects might have more
complexity and need for sophisticated training than a $10 million “cookie cutter” school construction project.
Rep. Carney remarked that the witnesses’ statements about prevailing wage redirecting money back into training
and education “directly contradicts” testimony on prevailing wage from witnesses earlier in the week.
Rep. McGregor asked if those seeking to address the issue in separate legislation thought it could be done
“quickly,” saying “We need to take the time to do it right. I just don’t want it to take too much time.”