Comptroller says emphasis on existing law needed as capital plan takes shape
By JERRY NOWICKI
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – With a $45 billion, six-year capital infrastructure plan becoming law earlier this year, Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza signed an executive order Tuesday aimed at refocusing enforcement of state prevailing wage laws for construction projects receiving state money.
“When I took office in 2016, we made sure to let folks know that … our goal is to continue to enforce this executive act. What we're doing now is just reaffirming it and updating it and getting the word out as we embark on a $45 billion capital plan that this is state law, people need to be aware of it, they need to abide by it.”
Prevailing wage is the rate of compensation determined by the government that must be paid to workers for projects involving state government funding.
At a news conference in her office Tuesday, Mendoza warned of halted checks for any contractor if it comes to her attention workers are not receiving the prevailing wage.
Mendoza said anyone believing a company is in violation of the act could notify her office.
“They would notify us, we would look into that alongside the Department of Labor, and we have the potential to stop payments, further vouchers going out, further warrants, essentially, being sent out until that corrective action is taken,” she said.
Mendoza’s executive order outlines other steps her office will take to ensure contractors pay their employees the prevailing wage as well. The executive order says her office will not accept any grant or contract submissions without proof that the contractor is in compliance with the prevailing wage act, and would have the authority to “pre-audit” any state-funded contracts as well.
Mendoza’s office will also maintain a prevailing wage inquiry form on the comptroller’s website, where state contract listings and other information can be found. The comptroller also said she would direct her prevailing wage enforcement officer to address queries from labor about any state-funded contracts.
The new executive order is necessary, she said, because the last one pertaining to prevailing wage was signed by former Comptroller Dan Hynes, and the General Assembly has not passed a capital plan as extensive as this year’s plan in decades.
“And essentially, there's a lot of people that have been in and out of government, even at the Department of Labor or here at comptroller's office. And not to mention, so many people that for the last few years had no clue even about what the rules are around prevailing wage,” she said. “So any opportunity … that we can have to educate the public, the vendor community, as well as our state agencies as to what the rules are when it comes to prevailing wage is important. And we don't want to have to do a lot of fixing, when we can do a lot of preventing.”