When Minimum Wage Is Not Enough

(April 18) – The House Local Government Committee advanced a bill today to allow counties and cities to increase the minimum wage in their localities beyond the state minimum wage, currently $10.20 an hour.

HB18-1368, sponsored by Reps. Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge, and Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, would allow local governments to adjust their minimum wage to more effectively address the cost of living for workers in their communities.

“A statewide wage standard simply can’t account for the wide disparity between the most expensive areas of our state and the least expensive,” Rep. Danielson said. “An income that’s adequate for a family in Las Animas would leave that same family homeless in Boulder.”

Research shows that increasing the minimum wage does not harm businesses or lead to a decrease in jobs. To the contrary, growth in wages spurs consumer spending and a healthier economy.

“This bill doesn’t raise the minimum wage,” Rep. Melton said. “It just gives local governments the ability to seek what’s right for their workers, their businesses, their local economies.”

“We’re talking about people who are trying to put a roof over their heads and feed their kids,” Rep. Danielson told the committee. “They’re having to make decisions about which bills they can’t pay this month, and they’re living paycheck to paycheck.”

“How is it in our state that you can work 60, 70, 80 hours a week and you still can’t afford to pay rent?” she asked. “And if a local community sees a path forward, sees a minimum wage increase as part of the solution, who are we as a state to stand in their way?”

Despite Republican lip service to the virtues of local control, every Republican on the Local Government Committee voted against HB18-1368. Democrats supplied the margin in the 7-6 vote that sent the bill to the House floor.

Leave a Reply