Diane Schwenke, president of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, opposes Amendment 70, which, if passed by the voters in November, will raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2020. In an op-ed (Herald, Oct. 11), she wrote “Many other states have been raising their minimum wages recently, but the difference is they did not use a one-size-fits-all approach. In Oregon and New York, there are multiple minimum wage zones – to reflect the fact that the cost of living is lower in rural communities.”
Unfortunately, in Colorado we do not have the option of “multiple minimum wage zones” due to Colorado Senate Bill 99-014, which prohibits municipalities from setting their own minimum wage. Because of this law, the minimum wage can only be changed at the state level.
And, although the cost of living does vary across the state, a full time worker (even one who is only supporting herself) cannot afford the basic necessities in any county on the current minimum wage (based on data from the 2015 Self-sufficiency Standard for Colorado).
Amendment 70 is not “seriously flawed” as Schwenke imagines, but rather is the right solution to the growing gap between earnings and the basic cost of living. Colorado’s minimum wage was last increased in 2006 when voters approved raising the minimum wage, leading to an increase in jobs, not the opposite, as Schwenke fears.
Don’t let scare tactics affect your decision making on this issue, look to real life: We raised the minimum wage 10 years ago with no ill affects. Let’s do it again in 2016. Vote “Yes” on Amendment 70 to raise Colorado’s minimum wage gradually to $12 by 2020!