Colorado voters will soon decide whether to raise Colorado’s minimum wage by nearly 99 cents.
Amendment 70 would increase the state minimum wage from $8.31 to $9.30 in 2017. It will then raise 90 cents every year after that until 2020, when it reaches $12. If passed, yearly adjustments would be made after 2020 to compensate for the increase in the cost of living.
For those who get tips in addition to an hourly rate, $3.02 would be the maximum hourly tip amount that could offset the new minimum wage. That would continue the policy set in 2006. What that means is that currently, the tipped workers’ minimum wage is $5.29, and Amendment 70 would change that to $8.98.
Supporters of Amendment 70 include Colorado People’s Alliance, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, and the Women’s Lobby of Colorado. They argue that the current wage in Colorado is too low for the rising standard of living in the state.
For instance, those who work full-time and make minimum wage end up making around $300 a week after taxes. With housing and health care costs rising, minimum wage workers are often at risk of needing government assistance.
Those who oppose Amendment 70 include the National Federation of Independent Businesses, The Colorado Bankers Association and the Colorado Women’s Alliance. Opponents of Amendment 70 argue that a raise in the minimum wage might cause layoffs, reduced hours and difficulties getting hired. Opponents believe this because they think more expensive employment will be difficult for businesses to maintain.
Whether it’s beneficial to raise the minimum wage is a debate that has no entirely clear answer. Research has argued that the wage benefits outweigh the marginal job losses that a moderate raise can cause, but experts cannot say if that pattern will hold true for the large increase proposals that are currently popular. 20 Colorado economists, most of them university professors, signed a letter in support of the increase.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Maris Westrum at Maris.Westrum@colorado.edu.