It’s time to take action! Tell your representative to support HB-1368, the local wage bill. It’s just common sense.
As Colorado’s economy continues to grow, the cost to live here continues to go up, but these costs aren’t the same in every community. Denver is more expensive than Yuma, so it makes sense to give control of minimum wage decisions to the local community. The local community can then, either through a ballot initiative or through their local elected officials, make decisions that make the most sense for that community.
Some lawmakers, who would ordinarily be on the side of local control, oppose this bill because they think that local governments – your government – can’t handle the responsibility. But, as they often point out, local governments, being closest to the people, are more accountable. Local control of the minimum wage strengthens our democracy.
Many lawmakers wrongly oppose this bill because they wrongly think that minimum wage jobs are primarily held by teenagers. They even talk nostalgically about their children’s first jobs. But, teenagers are only a tiny part of the minimum wage work force. Most workers making minimum wage aren’t teenagers – they are trying to support themselves or their families. Allowing communities to raise the minimum wage, helps families. 86% of minimum wage jobs in our state are held by people who are over 20 and most of them are even older – one-third are over 40 – and working to support their families. Minimum wage workers are not kids working at a summer job to save for college or for some extra pocket money; they are parents.
Minimum wage workers are home care workers, who take care of the most vulnerable people in our community. They do vital and compassionate work, but because they are often paid minimum wage, it is often difficult to find housing in the same communities where they work, which increases transportation time and costs they cannot afford. Because wages are so low, they face choices no one should have to make between food and health care, between rent and schools supplies.
Many airport workers, such as wheelchair attendants, face the same challenges and choices because of low wages, even though they also provide vital services to people at the airport, as well as important safe guards and assistance for the most vulnerable travelers in case of emergencies.
Allowing communities to raise the minimum wage not only helps families, it helps the local economy. When people make more, they spend their money in their local communities, often supporting small businesses, which is why many small businesses support raising the minimum wage.
When Coloradans earn more, they spend more in their local economies. In 2016, there were between 80,000-100,000 minimum wage workers in our state. Passage of HB18-1368 would put more money in the pockets of these families and be a boon for local businesses across the state. In addition, research shows that increased wages boost worker productivity and reduce turnover – which helps save businesses money.