As of January 1, 2017 the minimum wage in Colorado increased from $8.31 an hour to $9.31 and hour. The plan is that by 2020 minimum wage will be $12 an hour. An increase in minimum wage has not been voted on since 2006 when a vote was passed to boost the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.85 an hour. It is said that the money from the wages will be circulated back into the economy and will “help reduce reliance on public assistance.” Another study conducted by some of our fellow DU Pioneers estimates that $400 million will be added to the economy and “boost incomes for 20% of households in the state.” The public’s reaction to this new amendment was a mixture of gratefulness and resentment.
According to the Denver Post, Amendment 70 was passed with about 965,485 (55%) votes in favor of the vote and 790,922 (44.9%) votes against. The past minimum wage of $8.31 was constantly being argued against for it not being sufficient enough for workers to have a decent living off of and to support their families; many low-wage workers had to have multiple jobs. Towards the end of 2016 Moral Day of Action protesters were claiming that “living wage=moral issue.” It is evident that after countless hours of protesting and employees working and some barely scraping by, that the amendment was drawn and put to a vote. Michelle Webster, from the Colorado Center on Law and Policy said that it is “estimated that the increase would affect 480,000 workers across the state directly and indirectly.” With this new bump in the pay raise it is hoped that the low-wage individuals and their families will have a more profitable and comfortable life.
Before voters were given the opportunity to cast their votes various companies and citizens warned of the aftermath of the vote being passed. While the escalation in paychecks will help those who have minimum wage jobs there are some consequences that are sure to ensue soon. One of those issues is that the new wage will affect small businesses and that employees will be laid off because their employers can no longer earn enough money to pay their employees. This will be detrimental to both the business and employee because they need each other to function efficiently. It is predicted that businesses, especially small businesses, will be hit the hardest. Another complication–depending upon the person’s perspective–is that the tipping wage at restaurants will rise. By 2020 the tipping wage at restaurants will have a 69.75% increase. This is positive for the waiters and waitresses, but this is negative for the diners who will have to pay more for their meal and services.
As with any new amendment there are both positive and negative side effects. It is unclear yet if the good will outweigh the bad, but it was passed and supported by more than half of the public and hopefully it will turn out as expected.