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Wisconsin scores high in free-market construction ranking

Empower Wisconsin | Dec. 12,  2019

MADISON  — Wisconsin’s free-market reforms over the past several years have made the state one of the best business environments for open competition construction contractors, according to the Associated Builders and Contractors. 

The Badger State ranks 8th on ABC’s annual Merit Shop Scorecard, which tracks policies and programs that promote open competition and free enterprise in the construction sector. 

In recent years, Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Legislature and former Republican Gov. Scott Walker enacted right-to-work and other worker freedom laws, ending forced union membership and removing artificial wage mandates in the construction industry. 

ABC gives Wisconsin grades of B or better in six out of seven categories, including project labor agreement policy, prevailing wage wage mandates and right-to-work. The state earned a C in workforce development incentives, its only middling grade, according to the association. 

“With pro-business policies and regulations, Wisconsin lawmakers have established an environment that allows all contractors to thrive, which is good for everyone,” John Mielke, ABC of Wisconsin president, said in a statement. “Our state’s construction industry is booming, which leads to good-paying jobs for our workforce, increased opportunities for small businesses to expand and overall economic growth across the state.”

Construction remains one of the hottest sectors in Wisconsin’s economy, boasting 127,700 jobs in October and up 3.7 percent in year-over-year comparisons, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

The scorecard is related to the merit shop philosophy, which encourages open competition and a free enterprise approach that awards contracts based solely on merit, regardless of labor affiliation.

“Wisconsin has continually improved on its ranking for several years since several common-sense legislative reforms on project labor agreements, prevailing wage and right to work,” Mielke said.

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