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April 30, 2007

Governor proposes changes to state's infamous Wicks Law

Governor Eliot Spitzer has proposed broad changes to the state's Wicks Law and other mandates that increase local taxpayer burdens.

“This legislation enacts necessary measures to reduce the heavy financial burden, ease the cumbersome workload, and roll back the excessive mandates that for too long have handcuffed New York State's local governments,” said Governor Spitzer. “By encouraging structural reforms and reducing operational costs, this bill will promote fiscal savings for our taxpayers, increase flexibility for our municipalities, and ensure the long-term economic stability of our state.”

The legislation would amend the Wicks Law, which requires that municipal governments must issue multiple contracts for construction projects costing more than $50,000. The state's Budget Division has estimated that Wick's Law drives up local construction costs by 24 to 30 percent.

The governor's proposal would increase the threshold to $1,000,000 for Upstate projects and $2,000,000 for projects in New York City. The amounts would be indexed to the rate of inflation.

The proposal would also “strengthen subcontractor protections to ensure that subcontractors are treated fairly in non-Wicks projects,” and authorize the use of project labor agreements, which require pre-work agreements between local municipalities and unionized construction companies.

Under the Governor's proposal, competitive bid thresholds for public projects would increase from $20,000 to $50,000, and the threshold for commodities purchases would be increased from $10,000 t0 $20,000.

In addition, local governments would be able to consider “best value” when awarding contracts.

The legislation would also:

For more information on the proposed legislation, visit www.ny.gov/governor/press/0429071.html.