But long-time urban affairs commentator John McCarron proposes a partial compromise in Give this to Rauner and put people to work. Illinois contractors are subject to the Illinois Project Labor Agreement, which Mr McCarron characterizes as a "souped-up version of the more familiar federal Davis-Bacon Act." What Davis-Bacon, for federal projects, and the Project Labor Agreement, and Wisconsin's recently-repealed prevailing wage law (whose repeal revealed the extent of Republican rent-seekers among road builders, but I digress) all do is impose union scale wages on government projects. It's a statute that might have had racist origins (the old Washington Monthly of Charles Peters and James Fallows did yeoman service pointing it out), and its unintended consequences today include a disparate negative impact on minority businesses. And thus, Mr McCarron suggests, the rehabilitation of foreclosed housing is itself foreclosed, perpetuating slums.
As a matter of principle, I don't think the speaker would -- or should -- go for repealing the PLA on big public works such as expressways or schools. Somebody in the middle class ought to make a decent buck.Yes, there are errors of logic in the proposal, and generating a new set of rent-seekers is not without peril. But in a compromise, everybody walks away with something, and nobody walks away with everything. Currently, the governor and the legislature are on a track to get nothing.
But the purchase and rehab of foreclosed real estate?
Freeing buyers of derelict bungalows from prevailing wage requirements -- and leveraging their investment with a small public subsidy -- could draw hundreds of small-time contractors and developers into the market. Even the fed's Davis-Bacon already exempts projects of eight dwellings or less. Why not Illinois?