The Pennsylvania Department of General Services (DGS) has delayed construction of the State Correctional Institution at Benner Township because of “unacceptably high bids,” according to state officials. In fact, Benner Township state Senator Jake Corman told local media that “the bids were tens of millions of dollars over the state’s estimated $200 million cost for the project.” Although DGS Secretary James Creedon did not site a specific reason for the excessively high bids, DGS indicated that they will re-bid the Benner Township prison project without the PLA requirement included in the initial request for bidders.
The decision to require a PLA on the Benner prison project was entirely political. Despite clear evidence that PLAs keep an overwhelming percentage of Pennsylvania’s construction workforce from competing for projects, limit bidders and increase construction costs, Governor Ed Rendell publicly stated his desire for DGS to require PLAs on all of the upcoming state prison construction projects. As usual, the politics of PLAs reek of cronyism and corruption.
Governor Rendell and DGS’ decision to require PLAs comes at the expense of the citizens of Pennsylvania, whose tax dollars would be wasted on this Big Labor handout. Additionally, a PLA requirement hurts Benner Township merit shop contractors, who would have been locked out of an important opportunity to work by DGS PLA requirements. Senator Corman not only predicted the additional expense resulting from a PLA requirement on the Benner project, but also gave the merit shop contractors who the PLA locks out a voice at his June 23 press conference.
Here at TheTruthAboutPLAs.com, we commend DGS’ choice to re-bid the Benner Township prison project without a wasteful and discriminatory PLA and we hope this decision doesn’t change before the re-bidding actually occurs. Additionally, we hope the Rockview project can be the canary in the coal mine for DGS. It’s time to remove the PLA requirements from the other SCI/prison projects too.