Minimum Wage Hike Supporters Seek November Ballot Measure

<p>(Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)</p>
<p>The Colorado State Capitol.</p>

Advocates for a higher Colorado minimum wage Thursday filed a proposal that would ask voters in November whether they support the measure. It would set the state's minimum wage at $12 an hour by the year 2020.

Supporters would have to collect more than 98,000 thousand signatures for the measure to appear on the November ballot.

Colorado Families for a Fair Wage says the current minimum wage of $8.31 an hour is not enough to pay for basic needs. An increase would also bring some dignity to low-wage workers, and their increased buying power would help the economy, the coalition says.

How much money does a person have to make in order to live in various parts of Colorado? Last June, a statewide self-sufficiency index found that a single parent with one small child needs to make more than $50,000 a year to survive in the Denver metro area.

For a family of four, with two parents, a child in day care and one in school, the minimum needed for self sufficiency ranges from around $40,000 a year in Bent and Baca counties to more than $70,000 in Pitkin and Routt. (See a county-by-county map, and a robust discussion in our comments section here.)

The minimum wage increase measure is expected to be opposed by groups like the Colorado Business Roundtable. Jeff Wasden, the group's president, says an increase in the minimum wage would cause a strain on small businesses – one that could result in layoffs or even business closures.