Colorado Dems Push for Minimum Wage Increase

March 14, 2014
House bill asks Congress to raise minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.

House bill asks Congress to raise minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.

DENVER – A “get real” debate erupted Thursday in the Colorado House when Democrats rammed through a resolution imploring Congress to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.

The measure passed after nearly five hours of heated debate on a vote of 38 to 24, with Rep. Jared Wright (R-Fruita) voting with Democrats. The resolution will be introduced in the Senate next week.

Republicans argued that the resolution would rock the recovering economy, hurt small businesses and put a half million Americans out of work.  Small businesses are also struggling financially with the cost of the federally mandated Obamacare.

Democratic lawmakers insisted that setting a higher minimum wage would stimulate the economy, lift millions of people out of poverty and decrease dependency on welfare programs such as housing vouchers and food stamps.

“Raising minimum wage isn’t going to hurt at all,” said Rep. Joe Salazar (D-Thornton).

“Small business owners, they know that paying a higher wage, (workers) stick around,” Salazar said. “It reduces turnover. It increases employee productivity, commitment and loyalty.”

Rep. Mark Waller (R-Colorado Springs) said that small businesses are the engine that is driving economic recovery – and that would stall if government inflicts another mandate.

“Leave the small businesses free to run their businesses,” said Waller.

Colorado’s minimum wage is currently $8. In 2006, voters approved a statewide ballot initiative that raised the hourly wage and tied it to inflation.

Republicans offered 10 amendments to the resolution, including a warning that increasing minimum wage would force businesses to lay off workers and a motion to send the resolution to the House Business, Labor, Economic and Workforce Development Committee for a public hearing.

“No economist of his or her salt, liberal or conservative, will look you in the eye and say that some jobs will not be lost,” said Rep. Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs).  “People will be put out of work.”

Gardner and several Republican lawmakers cited the Congressional Budget Office report issued in February that setting minimum wage at $10.10 could boost the earnings of roughly 16.5 million workers, but it would also cause the loss of roughly 500,000 jobs.

“We all know it’s a contentious debate,” said Rep. Spencer Swalm (R-Centennial), who complained that there was no advance notice or opportunity for constituents to participate in the marathon debate.

Yet, it appeared that some folks had advance notice. The gallery was packed with small business owners, service industry workers and labor union representatives.

“Unions tie their wages to the minimum wage – if it goes up, union wages go up in the same proportion,” said Swalm, citing a Wall Street Journal story. “That’s why unions are so strongly supportive of a higher minimum wage.”

The union workers, Swalm said, “are not people in poverty. We’re talking about people in good jobs.”

Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

3 Responses to Colorado Dems Push for Minimum Wage Increase

  1. Brian McFarlane
    March 14, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    “Small business owners, they know that paying a higher wage, (workers) stick around,” Salazar said. “It reduces turnover. It increases employee productivity, commitment and loyalty.”

    Since “they know”, wouldn’t it be good business sense anyway? But wait, Salazar and mostly Dems seem to think that government should force companies to do what “they know” is good for a business.

    Poverty levels are relative to what other people/families incomes/spending are, if incomes overall rise (artificially in this case by government order) than the poverty line will also rise and we have a never ending need to “order” companies to pay more to keep the “pay” enough to be out of poverty. At the margin, companies will cut hours and/or workers. Workers that are less valuable will not be employed. This government intervention greatly interferes with the “relative” free market, it is not necessary.

    94% of full time workers wage is already above minimum wage. Higher minimum wages do not address the main reason that most poor families live below the poverty line. Contrary to what many assume, low wages are not their primary problem, because most poor Americans do not work for the minimum wage. The problem is that most poor Americans do not work at all.

    Families are poor not because they earn low wages but because they do not have full-time jobs. Raising the minimum wage does not address this problem. Making it more expensive to hire inexperienced workers leads businesses to hire fewer of them. This makes it harder for low-income families to gain the experience and skills necessary to rise out of poverty. This is another reason why studies consistently find that higher minimum wages do not reduce poverty rates.

    Election time!

  2. Bob Terry
    March 15, 2014 at 8:35 am

    This too, from the Cato Institute is another “reason” people dont work. And for true Democrat thought, raise taxes and those of us that pay taxes, and small business we’re all made of money.

    The Cato Institute is a well known & respected conservative ‘Think Tank’.

    They released a 2013 study showing that welfare benefits pay more than a minimum wage job in 33 states and the District of Columbia. Even worse, welfare pays more than $15 per hour in 13 states.

    According to the study, welfare benefits have increased faster than minimum wage. It’s now more profitable to sit at home than it is to earn an honest day’s pay.
    Hawaii is the biggest offender, where welfare recipients earn $29.13 per hour, or a $60,590 yearly salary, all for doing nothing.

    Here is the list of the states where the pre-tax equivalent “salary” that welfare recipients receive is higher than having a job:

    1. Hawaii: $60,590
    2. District of Columbia: $50,820
    3. Massachusetts: $50,540
    4. Connecticut: $44,370
    5. New York: $43,700
    6. New Jersey: $43,450
    7. Rhode Island: $43,330
    8. Vermont: $42,350
    9. New Hampshire: $39,750
    10. Maryland: $38,160
    11. California: $37,160
    12. Oregon: $34,300
    13. Wyoming: $32,620
    14. Nevada: $29,820
    15. Minnesota: $29,350
    16. Delaware: $29,220
    17. Washington: $28,840
    18. North Dakota: $28,830
    19. Pennsylvania: $28,670
    20. New Mexico: $27,900
    21. Montana: $26,930&n bsp;
    22. South Dakota: $26,610
    23. Kansas: $26,490
    24. Michigan: $26,430
    25. Alaska: $26,400
    26. Ohio: $26,200
    27. North Carolina: $25,760
    28. West Virginia: $24,900
    29. Alabama: $23,310
    30. Indiana: $22,900
    31. Missouri: $22,800
    32. Oklahoma: $22,480
    33. Louisiana: $22,250
    34. South Carolina: $21,910

    Now do you think we should reform welfare? Why not share this info with your registered voter responsible friends!

    The November VOTE is not far away !

    Think or we’ll have 3 states California, New York and the newest state DeeTroit

  3. PeterP
    March 16, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Democrat leaders know that everything the opposition says about the minimum wage is absolutely true. Fewer jobs, more unemployment, expensive goods and services, fewer sales and tax revenue. Most are not economic idiots but their base is easily misled. Their base is ignorant of basic economic principles and believe in Santa and Government handouts. They will wallow in government subsidized poverty for generations voting for the same “Party of the People”.

    Teenage unemployment is always higher than the standard unemployment rate. The divide will only widen as the minimum wage is increased. Is there any wonder that gangs prosper? They at least offer the kid something to do.


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