Colorado voters will decide in November whether to raise the minimum wage incrementally over the next four years, from the current $8.31 an hour to $12 an hour in 2020. After that, the state would continue to adjust the wage each year based on the Consumer Price Index.
Ways to join the debate:
- Fill out this brief form with your contact information
- Or, text “hello” to 720-358-4029 and we’ll send you some questions
- Or, answer through our Public Insight Network
- And, there's more Election 2016 coverage here
If you want to get some background on the issue first, we’ve spoken with both employers and workers about the issue, and you can listen to a debate about the measure and read the transcript here.
“I think on a small non-profit it would be a burden [to increase the minimum wage]. I don’t have a whole lot of employees making less than $12. Most of them make that or a little bit above. But having to pay the ones who aren’t making that up to that amount will be a little bit hard on our non-profit organization.”
--Tarrah Lowry-Schreiner, Pueblo
“I am voting to increase the minimum wage because a living wage is a right. It is the government's duty to protect the rights of Americans from the whims of others and open markets and capitalism do not do that. Allowing markets to set wages assumes people have the ability to chose not to work rather than accept a low wage which is plain false. A person working full time should be making enough to live off of.”
-- Taylor S., Broomfield
“Just last night I was having a conversation with my wife and the home nurse for our daughter about minimum wage and why it's a bad idea. I made the point that if a job pays too little and not a living wage then the only people that will be taking that job are those who absolutely need it, or who don't have the skills for higher-paying labor. They may or may not be the primary household income, but having a minimum wage hurts the economy by artificially creating value in work that may not be valued that highly. If people want to be paid more they ought to gain more education or more experience and sell those skills in the market.”
-- Brodie W., Berthoud
“When I read about the corporate welfare that’s going on in this country, and people who are objecting to increases in the minimum wage to me, it’s theologically outrageous. These are moral issues of towering consequence."
-- Rev. Tex Sample
“I own Kailo Acupuncture and Massage, located in the quickly growing Broomfield City & County. I pay my acupuncturists and massage therapists well over the proposed minimum wage, but I have strong feelings about minimum wage increases. I would like to hire an intern or receptionist in the future, and am planning to pay that person $10 per hour. A wage increase of "only" $2 per hour would increase my payroll liabilities. Instead of a total employer cost of just about $11 per hour, I would have a total employer cost of about $13.25/hr. Doesn't sound like much, does it? However, over the course of a year, that $2 increase means that I have to add 13 *extra* new clients to my practice every year. That's about 10 percent of my yearly goal.”
-- Melissa L., Denver
“I operate restaurants and I own catering businesses as well. Usually we tend to hire people at the minimum wage or slightly above it but I feel that it's time that we in the restaurant business come to terms that we need to raise the minimum wage to a level that keeps our employees at or above the poverty level.”
-- Robert L., Arvada
"The highest I pay my employees is $10 or $11. If the minimum wage raises to $12, I will lose contracts. The problem is that we need to bid for projects as cheap as we can go. If I have to pay $12 to employees I will lose contracts and my employees will earn nothing."
-- Albee Z., Colorado Springs
“People who work full-time shouldn't live in poverty. And, it's wrong for taxpayers to have to subsidize low-wage employers.”
“We just live in a poor area of Colorado. It’s just extremely hard to get good help. You don’t have a problem paying them whatever they’re worth. But to be forced to pay an exorbitant wage for your incoming people. ... Once they have come to work and you’ve got to know them, and you know their work ethic you don’t have a problem paying for them. But to have no choice what you’re going to pay an entry-level position before you’ve ever established before you’ve ever established the position—that’s just very hard to do.”
-- Sandy Emerson, Pueblo
“My son is working as a stocker for $8.29 per hour..only gets maybe 15 hours per week when he is scheduled 20 per week...sad because he works hard.”
-- Deborah D., Pueblo
“I have been a line cook for a restaurant for 8 years...I have seen a dozen cooks quite and move away because they couldn't afford to live in Denver.”
-- Nick G., Denver
“Not all jobs are meant to support a person or a family. At Evergreen Parks and Recreation, we have many part-time and seasonal workers. Several positions are typically filled by high school students who are trying to get real world experience and/or improve their college applications. If those positions were filled at $12/hr., we would need to increase some fees, thus negatively impacting lower income or fixed income members of our community. At $12/hr., there would likely be more adults competing for those positions, leaving very few opportunities for a high school student to get the experience they need.”
-- Monty E., Aurora
People working should be able to work hard and afford the basics. How can you work hard and still need assistance from the government? Large businesses are completely capable of paying higher wages. Smaller companies will need to price their product or services to pay the wage. Studies have shown that raising the minimum wage has strong benefits.
-- Tracy L., Denver.
“If you work full time, you should earn a living wage. Otherwise, capitalism has failed.”
-- Ken J., Golden
“As a Denver resident it's hard to get by with even a decent income. Those making minimum wage cannot survive and live in this city for $8.31/ hour. Raising the wage will benefit all of us. A rising tide lifts all boats.”
-- Loryn C., Denver
“Raising the lowest wage in Colorado will bring economic prosperity to our "Main Street" economies by giving those earners greater buying power, and help those on assistance programs off such programs freeing up funds to be used for other vital government services.”
-- Nick V., Pueblo
“This affects me now in that, with the time spent caring for my grand-daughter, any part-time minimum wage job would not begin to cover the gap between Social Security and reality. Here's the other thing about hourly work at minimum wage. There is no sick leave. In fact, I have no sick leave with my music job either, so if you don't work, you don't get paid. This means, any time off, any vacation at all, and you're facing loss of wages. I know from experience that minimum wage does not cover living expenses. I have had to supplement with Social Security and a second job. And I have seen that any increase in wages tends to go back into the local business community.”
-- Frances R., Denver
“Yes! Too many reasons why it is important to us (my wife and business partner). Briefly, we work side by side with our employees. We are their boss and their friends. We could not imagine paying them a wage that would not cover basic living expenses. We also feel it is good for our business. Less turnover, better service, less cost in training, fewer mistakes causing food waste and better morale. We also feel if Colorado low wage employees have more spending power it will help our local economies long term growth.”
-- Jeff R.