Illinois Prevailing Wage Costs Taxpayers More Money

by Zach Oltmanns | Illinois Conservatives

Illinois first passed its prevailing wage law back in 1941. It was passed to help protect employee salaries being reduced during bidding for a public project. It was also used as a mechanism to ensure that a labor dispute did not stop work on a public project. Unions once had a majority of construction employees as members. This has drastically plummeted with it down to 14% as of 2013. So it begs the question, in the year 2015 do we still need a prevailing wage law in the State of Illinois?

Have the prevailing wage laws changed over this same time period to reflect the new membership realities? The answer is no. Wages continue to be set at a union rate while 86% of the work force is not part of the union. There are many studies that show prevailing wage laws raise the cost of a project by 30-40 percent. Matt Crumb from Maclver Institute stated “As it turns out, prevailing wages can be up to 40 percent higher than competitive market wages, meaning taxpayers are hit with an extra cost burden on many government projects.” Read the full story at Wisconsin Prevailing Wage:

Prevailing wage is a backward policy designed to ensure government contract workers are paid wage rates and receive benefits that are “prevailing” in a given industry or region. As it turns out, prevailing wages can be up to 40 percent higher than competitive market wages, meaning taxpayers are hit with an extra cost burden on many government projects.

Illinois is only one of nine states that require prevailing wage to be applied for every public project. The additional costs to county, towns, and villages are significant with this requirement. These same governmental bodies are all likely to have a reduction in state funding under Governor Rauner’s budget so eliminating the requirement of prevailing wage could be a key way for these types of governmental bodies to save money. It would also encourage governments to continue with long anticipated building projects.

Local Taxpayers May See Surprises In This Year’s Property Bills


Sample Kane County Property Tax bill

from First Electric Newspaper

Property tax bills due to arrive in the mail this week (Kane) and next (McHenry) may provoke more cries of outrage (Kane) and glee (McHenry) than usual.  Thanks to what tax officials privately refer to as “a screwup”, some of them, mostly on the Kane side of the line, will include extra taxes to make up for two years of accidental undercharges.  However, some on the McHenry side might even end up with what amounts to a credit.  It’s taxes, so it’s complicated.

By way of illustration, consider School District 158.  It’s purely a bystander in the “adjustments” but it’s a big bystander and, as it happens, it only exists within Kane and McHenry counties which simplifies things a little.  In fact, by property value, 81.02 percent of it existed in McHenry County in 2013 so that’s how much of its total tax bite McHenry County residents should have paid.  However, due to reporting errors, property owners on the McHenry side ended up paying 81.53 percent of 2013’s taxes so now Kane County taxpayers will have to make up for what they should have paid instead.  Meanwhile McHenry County ones, in effect, will get a credit against 2014 taxes for the money they paid  in 2013 but shouldn’t have had to.

Property Taxes: Who’s to Blame and How to Stop Their Growth

by Lennie Jarratt

Across the State of Illinois, except for Cook County,  taxpayers will be receiving their property tax bills in the mail.  For most this will cause outrage over how high these taxes are.  Here are a few facts:

  • Lake County – #17 nationally and #1 in the Midwest
  • Dupage County –  #23 nationally
  • Kendall County –  #28 nationally
  • McHenry County – #29 nationally
  • Kane County – #30 nationally


As you can see 5 of the top 30 counties with the highest property taxes are here in Illinois.  So who is to blame for these high taxes and how can we stop them from increasing so fast?