MADISON, Wis. — State Senator Steve Nass has padded his pocketbook with over $1 million in taxpayer salary in his nearly 25-year career as a politician and enjoyed nine separate raises during that time. Nass also gets a generous pension, health care benefits, a per diem payment for showing up at work and mileage reimbursements for driving there — all worth hundreds of thousands of dollars over his many years in the state legislature. But Sen. Nass thinks that Wisconsinites who work on building state roads and bridges and other construction projects like building schools need to have their pay cut and as chair of the Senate Labor Committee is fast-tracking a bill to do just that.
“With the fastest shrinking middle class in the nation the last thing Wisconsin workers and their families need right now is a pay cut,” said One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “But that’s just what career politician Steve Nass, who’s been paid over $1 million in salary by taxpayers, gets reimbursed to drive to work and a bonus per diem for the days he spends in his office along with a nice pension and health care benefits wants to do.”
Nass has been receiving a taxpayer-funded salary as a member of the legislature since 1991. According to documents from the non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau this means he’s taken home in excess of $1,050,000 in salary alone. Over the years Nass has enjoyed nine separate raises in his taxpayer-funded salary, hiking his pay 51 percent.
Nass, chair of the Senate Labor Committee, announced late on Thursday he intends to hold a public hearing and vote on Senate Bill 49, repeal of the state prevailing wage law. The law requires that skilled workers employed on highway and state and local building projects be paid a “prevailing wage,” calculated by the state and based on the wages paid for workers in the same occupations in the area of the project. The law also requires that workers be paid overtime for working more than 10 hours per day or 40 hours per week. Senate Bill 49, supported by Nass and a handful of Republican legislators would repeal these requirements.
Prevailing wage laws were originally enacted in Wisconsin during the Great Depression. Requiring public projects like road and bridge construction pay market wages prevents contractors from trying to submit low bids by using unqualified, out-of-state workers. They also ensure that well-trained workers earn fair, family-supporting wages for their labor.
Ross noted that a recent study found that Wisconsin has the fastest shrinking middle class in the nation and job and wage rankings show the state lagging behind other states in the region and the nation as a whole. Other measures supported by Nass and fellow Republicans like a wrong for Wisconsin right to work law that will cut average family wages by $5,000 a year have exacerbated the situation.
He concluded, “Cutting the pay of the hard working Wisconsinites that build our roads, bridges and schools isn’t just a terrible idea it’s offensive coming from a guy like Nass who’s been perfectly willing to pad his own pocketbook for over a quarter of a century with taxpayer dollars.”