Enough Secrets

Complaints about public money used to pay out-of-state workers on big construction projects prompted West Virginia legislators to insist a few years ago that at least 75 percent of employees in such contracts be residents of our state. An enforcement mechanism requires contractors to submit payroll information including workers’ addresses.

But if a bill in the House of Delegates is enacted, any member of the public curious about the information would be told to take a hike.

SB 412, already approved by the state Senate in a 23-11 vote, would make contractors’ payroll reports to the state, for purposes of complying with the in-state employment rule, secret.

In other words, a few bureaucrats in Charleston would have information about how many out-of-state workers are involved in fat municipal, county and state contracts — but Joe Mountaineer would be told it is none of his business.

You would just have to trust the government to enforce the in-state employment rule – and to look at other aspects of such contracts to ensure no waste or fraud is going on.

That hasn’t worked very well for us in the past. Revelations of corruption between public employees and contractors are regular occurrences.

House of Delegates members, who have a good record on the public’s right to know how government is conducting our business, should just say no to SB 412. There are enough secrets in government already.


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