It’s time to eliminate government discrimination against taxpayers

Kevin D. Korenthal
Former executive director of the Associated Builders & Contractors, California Cooperation Committee and principal in KORE Communications, LLC, a communications consulting firm specializing in corporate marketing and communications based in Santa Clarita, California.

Government discriminates against taxpayers,
and oftentimes, it’s predicated as the basis upon which millions in political
contributions are delivered every year. 
The goal is to drain every last penny from people to protect a public sector
that has become fat, arrogant and seemingly proud of it.

Taxpayers are being lectured about the need
for "shared sacrifice" to protect education, public safety, health and welfare
spending and other public sector programs at a time when we are already
considered a "high-tax" state. Not to mention our record high unemployment
rates.  None of that seems to matter when
it comes to our insatiable government.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe we should have
the best possible schools, well-trained and supported law enforcement
professionals, and public services.  The
problem is, public employee unions and their partners think legalized
discrimination against the private sector and its taxpaying workforce is the
solution.  Teamsters Local 572
representative, Connie Oser, wrote the following in a letter to the Los Angeles
Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education, "LAUSD can no longer afford
to subsidize private industry with taxpayer dollars."

But the public sector exists because of the
sacrifices made by private industry. 
From large corporations to sole proprietorships, California’s private
sector – and its tax money – is what fuels the government.   Ms. Oser has it backwards…taxpayers can no
long afford to subsidize the government we have today.

The worst form of government discrimination
against taxpayers is through Project Labor Agreements (PLAs), which require any
public works project to use union-only labor. 
If a non-union business wants to bid, they have to force their employees
to pay union dues without receiving any benefit, resulting in fewer bidders.
Less bidders drive up the overall cost of the project. Industry audits have
revealed that PLAs bring no increased benefit to taxpayers.

Los Angeles County has resisted
discriminatory PLAs for years, but one has recently been proposed for the Martin
Luther King Jr. Medical Center revamp.  Ironically,
the cost of negotiating this discriminatory PLA will add almost $1 million to
the total cost of the project, not counting the higher construction cost the
PLA will bring.

Los Angeles residents and businesses should closely
watch the debate over this proposed PLA and decide whether or not they are
willing to support a government that would prevent taxpaying businesses from
providing services.  The unions will
undoubtedly increase their rhetoric, claiming that only union firms pay quality
wages and benefits, and attack private sector businesses, claiming they won’t
hire local workers to do the jobs. 

These arguments are just scare tactics coming
from a special interest that cares little about the public good or for the
taxpayers that pay the bills.  The truth
is that a binding contract, awarded to the best qualified bidder, union or
non-union, is the best way to prove that government respects taxpayers and is
committed to providing value in return for tax dollars.

Los Angeles County can be a model for
California by rejecting discriminatory PLAs and forcing unions to prove their
value by performance instead of politics.

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