August 21, 2015
To the Honorable Members of
The Illinois House of Representatives,
99th General Assembly:
Today I return
House Bill 3194 with specific recommendations for change.
Over the last
several years, the State has awarded weatherization grants under the Urban
Weatherization Initiative Act and the Energy Assistance Act, supported by
federal funds. Because of the federal funding, federal prevailing wage rates
program ended on June 30, 2015, at which point federal prevailing wage
requirements no longer apply. The proponents of the bill are concerned that
Illinois prevailing wage rates will apply going forward, leading to a marked
increase in wage rates, which will significantly reduce the value of the
program. Among other changes, House Bill 3194 would require that employees
performing weatherization work continue to be paid in accordance with (lower)
federal prevailing wage rates rather than (higher) Illinois prevailing wage
rates, regardless of whether the State receives federal funding.
demonstrates the problems with the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act. There is no
classification under the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act for “weatherization
worker.” Instead, contractors are required to use general classifications – in
particular, carpenters – which results in inflated wage rates. When the U.S.
Department of Labor conducted a survey of weatherization wage rates in Illinois
in 2009-2010, it found that the prevailing wage for weatherization workers was
a fraction of the wage rates applicable to carpenters.
We have an
obligation to taxpayers and the beneficiaries of government services to
maximize public resources. Every public program can go farther when it is not
compelled to subsidize artificially-inflated wages. For that reason, we need
broader reform to the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act.
returning House Bill 3194 to clarify the applicability of federal law. While I
agree with the sponsors that Illinois prevailing wage rates should not be
required, we should require payment of federal prevailing wage rates only if
and when required by federal law – something that can be left to federal law
itself and not repeated in Illinois statute.
pursuant to Section 9(e) of Article IV of the Illinois Constitution of 1970, I
hereby return House Bill 3194, entitled “AN ACT concerning finance”, with the following
specific recommendations for change:
page 2, by replacing lines 13 through 16 with the following: “subdivision
thereof. Works financed or funded in whole or in part with grants awarded under
this Article shall not be considered public works for purposes of the
Prevailing Wage Act.”; and
page 8, by replacing lines 2 through 8 with the following: “the weatherization
program. Works financed or funded in whole or in part with grants awarded
under this Article shall not be considered public works for purposes of the
Prevailing Wage Act.”.
changes, House Bill 3194 will have my approval. I respectfully request your concurrence.