Wicks Law Reform

Date: 2010

 

 
March 1, 2010
 
RE:    AN ACT to amend the education law and the general
municipal law in relation to assignment of contractsby school districts
 
S. 5559-B Oppenheimer
A. 8777-B Destito
                 
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT
 
Unshackle Upstate, a bi-partisan coalition of over 70+ business and trade organizations 
representing a growing group of 45,000 companies and employing more than 1 million people 
support the enactment of the aforementioned bill.  This legislation would make significant 
alterations to the general municipal law by exempting school districts from separate bidding 
requirements, otherwise known as “Wicks Law.”  
 
The Wicks Law requires state and local government construction projects to have separate 
plumbing, heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) and electrical contracts. Since 1988, New 
York City schools have been exempt from the law, while it has remained in effect for upstate 
school districts. The result has led to higher construction costs for upstate schools and, therefore, 
higher taxes for upstate residents and employers.
 
While this legislation would be a good step toward complete elimination of the onerous Wicks 
Law, it is imperative that New York State eliminate Wicks Law for all public projects.  In 2008, 
the Wicks Law was amended that set an exemption threshold of only $500,000 for Upstate 
projects (while New York City receives a threshold of $3 million and Long Island and 
Westchester County receive a threshold of $1.5 million).  The Upstate threshold remains far too 
low to generate any real savings to Upstate taxpayers and numerous projects are still subject to 
the Wicks Law across Upstate. 
 
Unshackle Upstate has been a major proponent of the implementation of many of the findings 
from the New York State Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness or 
Lundine Commission.  One of the commission’s findings is a recommendation to “eliminate the 
Wicks Law or, in the absence of that, dramatically increase its thresholds.”  
 
Unshackle Upstate recognizes that a full repeal of a law that has been in effect since 1912 would 
be a difficult thing to achieve overnight.  We view S 5559-B/A 8777-B as a very good first step in achieving real savings to New York’s school districts and municipalities.  
 
For these reasons, Unshackle Upstate supports the enactment of this legislation.