Funny how defenders of Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law behave in ways the opposite of what remarks from state legislative leaders would suggest. If, as GOP leaders say, there’s no momentum to repeal prevailing wage, why would opponents of repeal spend money—and big chunks of their personal reputations —in mortifying dishonest advertising and now, robocalls, as if in the midst of a cliffhanger election?
Last week it was reported that Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) advised attendees at the Republican state convention that “nobody” was talking about the prevailing wage issue. We’d carve out a few exceptions including one for these columns, but a far more intriguing exception is the people who don’t want prevailing wage repealed; they’re talking their heads off.
Here’s what we think is going on: In past lives, the primary lobbyists opposing repeal held legislative leadership positions on the Republican side, in both houses. We aren’t fond of what they’re doing now, but give them credit for being smart enough to know that if you’re winning on an issue that only becomes more controversial the more you talk about it, you shut up, take the win and go home. You don’t do the opposite for no reason.
We think the reason for doing the opposite here is a Republican legislative majority straining at the leash to repeal prevailing wage. We think the leadership is trying to hold this back, to preserve alliances that with each passing day look to be costing more than they can deliver.
Weeks ago, we suggested any incumbent legislator who can’t run on prevailing wage repeal and steamroll an opponent must have been elected by sheer happenstance. We think the GOP rank-and-file understands this and their leadership could perform a genuine public service by getting out of the way.