Frequently Asked Questions:

Amendment 70 is an initiative proposed and funded by two of the nation’s wealthiest and most politically active labor unions, the Service Employee International Union (SEIU) and AFL-CIO.  It is part of a broader national push to dramatically increase the minimum wage.  Their initiative would place a dramatic minimum wage hike in the Colorado Constitution, increasing the minimum wage by 44% for most entry-level workers, and 70% for servers, bartenders and other tipped employees by 2020. Wages would continue to rise through cost of living increases year over year.
Colorado has raised its minimum wage in the last 10 years by more than almost any other state, giving it one of the highest minimum wages in the country.  In 2006, Colorado voters approved an immediate minimum wage increase and a permanent requirement that the minimum wage increase by inflation every year thereafter.  The 2006 minimum wage boost has increased the minimum wage by more than 61% in the 10 years since, making it one of the highest and one of the few that escalates automatically every year.
Dramatically – nearly 50%.  Amendment 70 would increase the minimum wage by an additional 44% over the next four years, on top of the 61% increase that has occurred in the last 10 years. The increase is even more dramatic for tipped employees – raising the minimum wage by 70% for those employees.
No.  One of the most draconian aspects of Amendment 70 is that it would make a small business in the San Luis Valley, the Western Slope or the Eastern Plains pay the same wage structure to new workers as it would for large and cash-rich businesses in communities like Boulder, Aspen, Cherry Hills and the high-end Denver suburbs.  The National Federation of Independent Business says Amendment 70 will have a disproportionate impact on small, rural and family-owned businesses because they typically operate on smaller profit margins and do not have the capacity to absorb a 44% – 70% increase in the minimum wage like larger businesses with larger profits.
No.  Because amendment 70 is a constitutional amendment, if passed, it cannot be changed by the legislature.  Theoretically, voters could approve another constitutional amendment amending this constitutional amendment, but that hasn’t happened in Colorado since Prohibition.
No.  Because amendment 70 is a constitutional amendment, if passed, it cannot be changed without a vote of the people.
Restaurants – especially small, family-owned operations in rural areas – will feel the brunt of Amendment 70 more directly than any sector. The minimum wage for tipped employees, like servers or bartenders, will increase by 70% under Amendment 70. This increase is larger than the 44% increase for non-tipped employees because the tip credit of $3.02 – or the amount less from the current minimum wage that tipped employees can be paid – will not change.
The Colorado Restaurant Association met with proponents prior to the ballot language deadline in March and asked if they would consider a compromise, even if only on the tipped wage. Their response was “no.” In fact, the proponents stated that they would prefer the minimum wage to be $15 per hour and eliminate the tip credit altogether.  All state deadlines have passed to introduce alternative ballot language for this election.
Yes, multiple studies both locally and nationally have demonstrated significant negative economic impacts by such a large increase. A recent independent study found that amendment 70 would reduce Colorado employment by 90,000 jobs by 2022 and depress wages in the state by $3.9 billion annually. It would have an even more outsized impact on teenage employment, reducing it by 10,500 jobs by 2022, depriving many young Coloradans of early job opportunities and the ability to save for college. Nationally, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found a smaller increase in the federal minimum wage – to $10.10 per hour – would have the effect of killing 500,000 jobs across the country.
The job losses incurred as a result of Amendment 70 will have wide-ranging impacts across the economy, in addition to the $3.9 billion in reduced wages felt by Colorado consumers. Many businesses will be forced to raise prices to cover their increased labor costs – costs that will be borne by many businesses who currently pay more than the minimum wage. Additionally, with entry-level workers making $12/hour there will be pressure to raise wages for all employees, causing increased labor costs for many businesses that currently pay more than the minimum wage.
Minimum wage increases passed at the ballot box in four states in 2014, but all were for much smaller increases than the one proposed by Amendment 70. Initial research shows that Colorado voters have significant concerns about the measure and that it remains eminently beatable.  In 2006, the last time a minimum wage measure was on the ballot in Colorado it barely passed, 53% – 47%. However, this year the choice before voters is much different than 2006. Rather than deciding between keeping the minimum wage stagnant and increasing it, voters will decide between the current annual increase and raising the minimum wage to the point where significant job losses are suffered as a result.
The proponents and funders of the measure are largely national labor unions and liberal special interest groups who are targeting Colorado’s ballot as part of a broader national political effort. Opponents include the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, Aurora Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Colorado Restaurant Association, the Colorado-Wyoming Petroleum Marketer’s Association, the Tavern League and a growing list of small and family-owned businesses that would feel the brunt of the negative consequences of such a large increase in such a short time.