Watch CBS News

Colorado Democrats Advance Minimum Wage Measures

DENVER (AP) - Democrats pushing to raise the minimum wage in Colorado achieved a couple of temporary victories Monday with measures addressing the issue, including one that would ask voters to incrementally increase wages.

They gave initial approval in the House to letting municipalities set their own minimum wage, and sending a question to voters to hike it from $8.23 per hour to $12.50 by 2020.

With Republicans who oppose the ideas in control of the Senate, neither proposal stands a chance of getting to the governor's desk. More than anything, the measures serve as a windup for Democrats hoping to set the stage for advocates outside the Capitol to launch a ballot campaign for 2016.

Democrats argue the current minimum wage is not enough for workers to live on, and that they end up being a burden on government.

"What we do is we impoverish our lowest-income workers, our lowest wage workers, and we impoverish them because we say we must let the free market determine wage rates," said Rep. Daniel Kagan, a D-Cherry Hills Village. "So after impoverishing them, we subsidize them with food stamps and that money comes out not of the employer's pockets but out of the taxpayer's pockets."

Republicans say that increasing the minimum way will drive up the price of consumer goods and the costs to run a business, to the detriment of the workers Democrats want to help.

"The response of increasing the minimum wage is you have to close your restaurant because you can't afford to pay it. You have to reduce hours because you can't afford to pay it," said Rep. Lori Saine, R-Dacono. "It's like the death panel for jobs."

Both measures that Democrats gave preliminary approval to on Monday still need final votes. The measure letting local governments set a minimum wage has votes to pass the House, but can't survive the in the GOP-led Senate. And Democrats don't have the two thirds support needed in the House to get the referred question out of the chamber when the bill comes up for a final vote later.

- By Ivan Moreno, AP Writer

(© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.