Yesterday, Colorado Families for a Fair Wage submitted 200,000 signatures to put the proposal on the ballot. As proposed, the initiative would amend to Colorado Constitution to raise the minimum wage 90 cents per year until 2020, and then set it on a glide path to continue to increase with a cost of living index. The current Colorado minimum wage is $8.41 per hour.
A broad spectrum of Democrat special interest groups have lined up behind the minimum wage hike including Bell Policy Center, a leftist think tank in Denver, as well as labor unions have collaborated on the project.
Why labor unions you may ask? It turns out that a lot of labor union contracts are indexed to the minimum wage plus some spread, so big labor stands to gain from this measure as well.
Unfortunately, an increase in the minimum wage would harm those on the lowest levels of the economic ladder. It will further push businesses to develop and purchase technology to displace low paying jobs – those that do not justify paying people an increased government mandated minimum wage. Businesses will have to make due with fewer employees, and some of those young people looking for their first job will miss out. This is important, as the basic skills that a young person learns at his first job far outpaces the pay that they will receive.
Proponents of this measure will say that the government regulates labor in terms of workplace safety, which is a long established practice and reasonable. Comparing the regulation of wages, where there is an efficient market clearing price for most services, has nothing to do with workplace safety regulation.
The representative from the Bell Policy Center said on Ross Kaminsky’s show that he believes that support for the measure is slightly greater than opposition. While most Colorado voters are inclined to reject ballot measures unless there is a strong argument to pass them, it is important not to take this for granted, and fight yet another Democrat anti-business, job killing proposal.