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Possible Brent Spence plan would reduce construction worker wages
COVINGTON, Ky. (Jeff Hirsh) -- Senator Mitch McConnell went to northern Kentucky to talk about paying to replace the Brent Spence Bridge.
At least one Covington city commissioner says McConnell's proposal to pay the estimated $2 billion cost is underwhelming. McConnell's opponent in the November election accused him of using the bridge as a political ploy.
McConnell wanted to create something called the "Emergency Interstate Bridge Safety Fund." He said it would free up $13 billion over the next 10 years for projects like the Brent Spence. He would do that by cutting the pay of workers who would do the jobs.
Brent Spence replacement is a $$2.6 billion project and with Kentucky not willing politically to OK tolls, McConnell told the northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce that there was another way. The Senate Minority Leader wanted to repeal the federal David Bacon Act. That law required prevailing wage to be paid on federal projects. Prevailing wage tends to be closer to union wages and is thus usually higher.
Senator McConnell said, "All I can do is fight for projects that make sense in ways of doing them. Davis Bacon, to me, is a relic of a bygone era."
Covington Vice Mayor Steve Frank said, "There's no way I'm going to characterize his motivation. I think there is good meat for dedicated funding for serious transportation issues like the Brent Spence Bridge."
McConnell's opponent in the tight US Senate race, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, issued a statement saying, "The people of Kentucky will be more than angry with Mitch McConnell when they are reminded that for 30 years in Washington he's done nothing to build the Brent Spence Bridge."
Grimes proposed closing tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires as well as ending tax breaks which help ship jobs overseas. That could save $75 billion over 10 years. Some of those savings, she said, could pay for the Brent Spence project without tolls.
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