A bill that would eliminate the prevailing wage on public school projects on Thursday failed to pass a House committee.

The prevailing wage is the pay rate for construction workers on public works projects and is set by the state Labor Cabinet.

State Rep. Regina Bunch, a Republican from Williamsburg, argued that the wage is artificially high and drives up costs in public school budgets.

“To me it is simply just bad public policy for government to assist any group and guarantee wages and stifle competition,” Bunch said

Republicans in the state legislature have for years proposed bills to repealing parts or all of the prevailing wage.

The prevailing wage on school construction was repealed in 1982 but reinstated in 1996.

Opponents to the bill say that the prevailing wage ensures that public schools are soundly built. State Rep. Linda Belcher, a Democrat from Shepherdsville and former teacher, voted against the bill

“I want every child to be in a building that we can trust that is going to stand and be safe when we have bad weather or any other things, Belcher said.

In a room full of union workers, the House Labor and Industry Committee voted down the bill 6-14.

State Sen. Wil Schroder, a Republican from Wilder and chief sponsor of the bill, vowed to bring it back next year.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives.