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Wage Requirements for Incentives Under Fire at the Capitol

A lawmaker from Dallas wants cities to be barred from requiring contractors to pay a "living wage" when awarding incentive packages. The Austin American Statesman reports:

State Rep. Kenneth Sheets, R-Dallas, said a group of minority contractors told him they would have difficulty paying the $11-an-hour living wage to the laborers they hire, making those contractors less likely to get a piece of the publicly subsidized projects. Sheets filed legislation last month that would bar cities from mandating any wage requirements as part of economic incentive packages, such as the ones Austin has offered to Apple and the developer of a downtown Marriott hotel now under construction, and is considering offering to National Instruments.

“The unintended consequences of these prevailing wages outweigh any noble act they are trying to make,” Sheets said. “I think it becomes more concerning because, what are they cutting? Are they cutting when it comes to worker safety? … Are we sacrificing quality to cut the bids in other areas in order to meet the prevailing wage?”

The Austin city council is set to set to vote on requiring a living wage as a minimum wage for construction workers when incentive packages are given to companies. The proposal from Sheets would make it illegal for Austin to do that. San Antonio and Travis County already have something similar on the books.

The strings attached to various incentive deals have been the subject of a long-running debate in Texas and throughout the nation. Your thoughts on this latest development are welcome in the comments. 


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