State capitol

A reflection of the Indiana State Capitol in Indianapolis.

Jonathan Miano, The Times

From acts of Congress to local government ordinances, lawmakers from all levels should be willing to put their codified policies to the test.

In that vein, the Indiana Legislature should push for an empirical review of the General Assembly's 2015 repeal of the common construction wage statute.

Whether the law remains off Indiana's books or put back on, the decision should be made on statistical evidence and hard data, not political ideologies.

In a recent report provided to The Times, the Midwest Economic Policy Institute concluded that following the common wage repeal, Hoosier construction workers earned less than they did before, with no meaningful cost savings for Indiana taxpayers.

The law had been seen by proponents as a sort of guaranteed minimum wage for construction workers.

Opponents of the ultimately repealed law, including former Gov. Mike Pence, argued eliminating the county minimum pay rates for public works projects would save the state and local government agencies money without reducing construction workers' paychecks.

Drawing on U.S. Department of Labor statistics for the four quarters before and after the law was repealed, the institute concluded Hoosier construction wages fell by an average of 8.5 percent after the repeal.

The lowest-paid workers saw their paychecks fall by an average of 15 percent, according to the institute.

Construction wages in neighboring Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, meanwhile, grew a combined 2.8 percent.

The institute also reported the repeal didn't contribute to more competition for public works projects, among other findings, and thus didn’t lead to measurable savings.

Region conservative voice, Indiana House Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, broke with the Republican majority by opposing the law's repeal in 2015.

It wasn’t unusual for Soliday, who gives understandable deference to his labor-rich constituency.

Soliday believes the common construction wage hastens the hiring of local workers who "spend their money locally."

He also questions how effective the repeal has been in light of the recent institute study.

It's important to note the institute study concluded overall union businesses grew their Hoosier market share after the repeal to 91 percent of market value, up from 87 percent.

So the news hasn't been all bad for organized labor.

Now the Legislature owes it to all of us to ensure the repeal is hitting the intended marks promised when it was adopted.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Local News Editor Marc Chase, Lake County Editor Crista Zivanovic, Porter/LaPorte County Editor Doug Ross and Deputy Local Editor Erin Orr.