Why Don’t They Cut Costs First?

Member Group : Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania

Last year the CAP PAC made its first major foray into county politics and it just paid dividends for residents of Montgomery County. In his race for Commissioner, Joe Gale ran as an unabashed conservative. Earlier this week Commissioner Gale took a vocal stand for those principles and saved his constituents $3.5 million.

Due to a law passed in 2013, Pennsylvania currently has the highest gasoline taxes in the country. That same law contained a provision allowing counties to enact a $5 registration fee for vehicles. Seeing an easy source of revenue, Gale’s Democratic colleagues were set to extract more money from Montgomery County taxpayers. That plan was derailed when Joe brought media attention to the pending vote. Unlike his Republican predecessor, who would "go along to get along", Gale went to the public to make sure they were aware of the tax increase.

There is a great deal of similarity between what is happening in Montgomery County, and what typically happens in Harrisburg. Rather than looking at how to save money, elected officials enact a new fee or tax and take the money from their constituents. In this instance, the $5 per vehicle fee would purportedly go to "infrastructure" projects. While infrastructure is arguably one of the few legitimate services government should provide, taxpayers are not getting the most for their money.

As Commissioner Gale points out, and we have been talking about for years, infrastructure and other construction projects are subject to wage controls that force taxpayers to overpay for labor. These wage controls come in two basic types, an artificially calculated "prevailing wage" and project labor agreements (PLA’s). Both of these wage controls benefit organized labor and PLA’s also exclude nonunion contractors from the bidding process.

Eliminating prevailing wage and PLA’s would drastically decrease the cost of public projects and make tax dollars go much further. However, it is politically easier for elected officials to take more money from taxpayers than it is to take on organized labor.

We applaud Gale’s willingness to stand up for taxpayers. His actions tell us that the CAP PAC made a good investment in his candidacy.