Amendment 70: Colorado votes to raise the minimum wage

Colorado’s minimum wage will increase from $8.31 an hour to $12 an hour by 2020.

With an estimated 48 percent of votes counted from partial results from 35 of Colorado’s 64 counties, 55 percent of Colorado voters supported raising the minimum wage and 45 percent opposed it.

Amendment 70 gradually raises the minimum wage over several years until it reaches $12 an hour in 2020. It also builds in a cost-of-living adjustment going forward. Tipped workers would earn $8.98 an hour.

Labor unions and advocates for working families supported the increase. Many small business owners, particularly independent restaurants, opposed the measure.

“We are so proud tonight that Colorado’s voters chose to give our working families a raise so they can better afford the rising cost of rent, health care costs and other basics,” Lizeth Chacon, a leader with Colorado Families for a Fair Wage and executive director of the Colorado People’s Alliance, said in an emailed statement. “Tonight is a testament to the power of working families organizing to knock on doors, make phone calls and talk with voters across the state to bring us to victory. This a great first step to build an economy that works for all of us.”

In an emailed statement, Sonia Riggs, president and CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association, said she hopes Coloradans will keep patronizing small businesses even if they have to raise their prices.

“Now, more than ever, restaurants and small businesses will need public support as they work to adjust their business models to accommodate significantly increased costs,” she said. “We encourage the public to continue to patronize these local businesses when they are forced to raise prices and reduce staffing levels in order to keep their doors open.”

Many economists say the minimum wage increase should help the economy as poorer workers spend almost everything they earn, and they’ll have more money to spend with higher wages.

Erica Meltzer

Author: Erica Meltzer

Erica Meltzer covers government and politics. She's worked for newspapers in Colorado, Arizona and Illinois and once won a First Amendment Award by showing up in the wrong place at the wrong time. She served in the Peace Corps in Paraguay and can swear fluently in Guarani. She gets emotional about public libraries. Contact Erica Meltzer at 303-502-2802, emeltzer@denverite.com or @meltzere.