SCHOOLS Bill requires the use of Ohio companies
About 91 percent of school construction jobs in the state are done by Ohio-based companies.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- School districts doing state-funded construction projects would be required to hire only Ohio contractors, which would then have to pay prevailing wage rates to their employees, under a bill proposed by state Rep. John Boccieri of New Middletown.
The bill prohibits school boards from granting state construction jobs to a contractor that does not have a principal place of business in Ohio. The districts have to undertake a "best-faith effort" to get Ohio-based contractors before they could use an out-of-state company, said Boccieri, D-57th.
"It would range from design and drafting to general construction -- all aspects of the project," Boccieri said. "If we are using Ohio taxpayer dollars for Ohio school projects, we should use Ohio businesses."
About 91 percent of school construction work goes to Ohio-based companies, Boccieri said. The state plans to spend about $20 billion for school construction over the next 10 years, he said.
"By requiring that these projects be granted to in-state contractors, Ohio will be supporting its local workers and construction companies and helping to boost the state's economy," Boccieri added. "It is a win-win situation for the contractors and the state government."
Prevailing wage: Boccieri said the prevailing-wage rate provision in his bill faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Legislature, which removed that provision from law three years ago.
The proposal would require contractors on school construction projects to pay the local prevailing rate of wages to workers.
The rates, determined by the Ohio Department of Commerce, vary from community to community and are based on collective bargaining agreements, Boccieri explained.
"By making these projects subject to the prevailing-wage law, we are ensuring the protection of Ohio's construction workers," he said. "We are also ensuring the construction of safer buildings by employing skilled workers and artisans who have been through mandatory apprenticeship programs. Quality workers mean safer buildings for our children."
The bill has been referred to the House Commerce and Labor Committee, which will have a hearing on it during the next few weeks.