Colorado Capitol Report

Minimum-Wage Hike Initiative Qualifies for November Ballot

This Capitol Report is brought to you by:

  • community-banks-of-colorado

State Policy News

Minimum-Wage Hike Initiative Qualifies for November Ballot

This morning, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams announced in a news media release that Initiative 101, a constitutional amendment initiative that would raise the state minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2020, has qualified for the November ballot. CACI opposes the proposed amendment, which has not yet been given a number.

On July 26th, Initiative 101’s advocates submitted 189,419 petition signatures Monday to the Secretary of State’s Office.  A ballot measure this year needs 98,492 valid signatures of registered voters to qualify.

The Secretary of State’s Office found that a 5 percent random sample projected the number of valid signatures to be more than 110 percent of the total number of signatures needed to place the measure on the ballot.  The projected percentage was 116.70 percent.

The current minimum wage is $8.31, which is the result of a 2006 ballot initiative approved by the voters.  The Federal minimum wage is $7.25.

The named backers of the measure, Colorado Families for a Fair Wage, comprise some 35 organizations that include labor unions, liberal/progressive think tanks and social/economic-justice organizations.

Despite the name of the issue committee, however, much of the $1.160 million of funding for Colorado Families for a Fair Wage, as of July 27th, has come from out-of-state liberal/progressive organizations and unions.

The reason, obviously, is that the Democratic Party at both national and state levels has enthusiastically embraced increases in state, local and Federal minimum wages not just as a policy objective but, particularly in Colorado, as a strategy to increase Democrat voter turnout.

The latest filing, which was due August 1st, for Colorado Families for a Fair Wage, revealed the following contributions, which were raised during the period June 23 to July 27:

  • $1,600, Fairness Project, Palo Alto, Calif., for “web hosting.”
  • $5,000, American Income Life Insurance Company, Waco, Tex.
  • $50,000, Sixteen Thirty Fund, Washington, D.C.

The Sixteen Thirty Fund has contributed a total of $114,500 while the Fairness Project has contributed a total of $185,478.57.

Other notable, out-of-state contributors from prior reporting periods include:

  • $110,778.32, New Venture Fund, Washington, D.C
  • $350,000, Center for Popular Democracy Action Fund, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • $50,000, Service Employees International Union C.O.P.E., Washington, D.C.

Colorado Families for a Fair Wage’s “cash on hand” as of June 27th was just over $80,000.

CACI opposes the measure for several reasons, including the following:

  • An increase in the state minimum wage should be statutory in nature and debated by the legislature and not enshrined in the State Constitution, where it will be virtually impossible to change;
  • The measure interferes with the “private right to contract” between a worker and an employer; and
  • Important sectors, such as hospitality, will likely be adversely affected if companies, especially small ones with thin profit margins, are not able to pass the increased labor costs on to their customers.

The Colorado Restaurant Association, a CACI member, points out:

Small and family-owned businesses – which make up more than 97 percent of Colorado’s employers – would be hit the hardest by this pay hike, forced to cut jobs, reduce hours, and lay off employees.  In fact, if passed, this constitutional amendment would kill more than 90,000 jobs within the next six years.

We need your help today to defeat this proposed wage hike.

Not only would this amendment hurt the very people it is meant to help, this extreme, one-size-fits-all approach will:

  • Eliminate entry level jobs
  • Hit rural communities disproportionately hard
  • Position Colorado as a non-competitive state
  • Reduce Colorado wages $3.9 billion by 2022

Consequently, CACI strongly urges its members to contribute to an issue committee that has been formed to oppose the minimum-wage increase ballot initiative that on Monday will take a major step closer to being qualified for the November ballot.

The issue committee that has been formed to oppose Initiative 101 is called Keep Colorado Working.  The committee’s registration number with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office is 20165031488.  An issue committee can accept unlimited amounts from individuals, corporations and non-corporate business entities.  Contributions to Keep Colorado Working will be filed with the Secretary of State’s Office and, therefore, will become public.

CACI members should send contributions to:

Keep Colorado Working
2318 Curtis Street
Denver CO 80201

CACI members with questions about contributions to Keep Colorado Working should call Katie Behnke or Austin Metsch at the Starboard Group at 720-524-7332

CACI members with questions about the minimum-wage issue should contact Loren Furman, CACI Senior Vice President, State and Federal Relations, at 303.866.9642.

For more information on Initiative 101, read:

“$12 minimum wage measures makes Colorado ballot,” by Aldo Svaldi, The Denver Post, August 11th.

Viewpoint: Minimum-wage proposal will hurt small businesses and low-wage workers it purports to help,” by Sonia Riggs and Kevin Hougen, The Denver Business Journal, August 6th.

Upcoming regulations: A perfect storm,” editorial, The Colorado Springs Business Journal, August 5th.

Support Effort to Oppose Minimum-Wage Hike Ballot Measure,” CACI Colorado Capitol Report, July 22nd.

CACI Board Opposes Oil-and-Gas Ballot Initiatives, Minimum Wage Hike Measure,” CACI Capitol Report, June 30th.

ColoradoCares Long-Term Budget Shortfall Could Be in the Billions, Independent Study Finds

On Monday, an independent organization, the Colorado Health Institute, issued a report that stated that the proposed ballot Amendment 69, known as ColoradoCares, would probably come up short by almost $8 billion by the tenth year of its existence, should voters approve the measure this November.   CACI opposes the measure.

Amendment 69 would create a quasi-public, single-payer, health-care system that would impose a $25 billion tax on employers, workers, and taxpayers.

The Institute said that increasing health-care costs over the years would result in the red ink.  ColoradoCares would then be forced to raise its tax, reduce benefits or reduce the amounts paid to medical service providers like doctors, hospitals, and so forth.  From the report:

One of the biggest questions about ColoradoCare, a proposed constitutional amendment to create a system of universal health care coverage, is whether its financing plan would work. Would it be viable over time?

To answer this question, the Colorado Health Institute (CHI), a nonpartisan health policy research center, conducted an independent financial analysis of ColoradoCare.

Our study found that:

  • ColoradoCare would nearly break even in its first year while extending coverage to all Coloradans, but it would slide into ever-increasing deficits in future years unless taxes were increased.
  • On the plus side for ColoradoCare, it would be able to reach its goal of saving money in the health care system by cutting billions of dollars in administrative costs and insurance company profits. That funding could be reallocated to provide coverage to the 7 percent of Coloradans who remain uninsured, achieving universal coverage.
  • However, the revenues designated for ColoradoCare to pay for the new universal coverage wouldn’t be able to keep up with increasing health care costs, resulting in red ink each year of its first decade.

CHI’s analysis finds that ColoradoCare would struggle with the same financial dilemma as the current health care system — the inability to tame rising health care costs. That would create a structural problem for ColoradoCare.

Although its savings on administrative costs would grow over time, those savings would be overwhelmed by the rising cost of health care, which is projected to grow faster than tax revenue. This is crucial because taxes would account for roughly two-thirds of ColoradoCare’s projected funding.

In April, the Institute issued its first report on ColoradoCares, detailing how it would work and be financed along with questions to be raised about the proposal.

Meanwhile, the Legislative Council has issued its third draft analysis of Amendment 69 for the Blue Book, which will be mailed to every registered voter.  Comments on the third draft were due yesterday.  The Legislative Council has not yet produced a fiscal analysis of the measure.

In November, the CACI Board of Directors voted to oppose Amendment 69 just days after Secretary of State Wayne Williams qualified the ballot initiative for the November ballot.

Amendment 69 is opposed by Coloradans for Coloradans, an issue committee whose co-chairs include Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and former Democratic Governor Bill Ritter.  The organization is backed by a coalition of business organizations, public officials, and community and civic leaders.

CACI urges its members to contribute to Coloradans for Coloradans. Contributions can be mailed to:

Coloradans for Coloradans
1660 Lincoln Street
Suite 1800
Denver CO 80624

Contribution can also be wired electronically to Coloradans for Coloradans.  CACI members who have questions about contributing to Coloradans for Coloradans should email Katie Behnke or call her at 303.807.4583.

Coloradans for Coloradans is an issue committee, #20165030100, registered with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.  An issue committee may receive unlimited contributions from an individual, a corporation or a non-corporate business entity.

For more information about Amendment 69, read:

ColoradoCare could come up billions of dollars short, independent analysis finds,” by John Ingold, The Denver Post, August 8th.

Viewpoint: Amendment 69 would gut Colorado’s stable workers’ comp system,” by Phil Kalin, CEO, Pinnacol Assurance, The Denver Business Journal, August 8th.

Q&A: Amendment 69’s Impact on Employers and Workers Would Be Huge,” The CACI Colorado Capitol Report, June 10th.

No on Amendment 69: ColoradoCare would be too costly,” opinion by Denise Akromas Wentz, The Denver Post, April 1st.

Federal Policy News

CACI Brings “DC” To Denver, SBA Experts Talk Crowdfunding & Overtime

On Thursday morning, CACI welcomed a panel from the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s DC Office of Advocacy to talk about a slew of federal issues facing small businesses, including crowdfunding, overtime rule requirements, potential immigration worker changes, business trends and the costs of regulation on businesses.  For reference, any business with less than 500 employees meets the criteria of a small business for SBA standards.  It is also helpful to know that the SBA Office of Advocacy is actually separate from the SBA, effectively acting as a fact-based, data-driven watchdog over the SBA and several other agencies – filing official comments and recommendations on behalf of businesses.

CACI works closely with our Region VIII SBA Advocate, John Hart, to share any comments CACI files on behalf of our members for proposed rules, and partnering to be most effective for Colorado businesses.  So when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations were going to constrain crowdfunding to the point of being unusable for entrepreneurs, the SBA Advocacy Office collected advice from on-the-ground experts, anecdotal experiences of entrepreneurs and economic data from across the country to advise the SEC on how to better craft crowdfunding rules.

Most recently, when the Department of Labor (DOL) overtime rules were poorly written (i.e. economic costs to businesses were severely under-calculated by the DOL) and were particularly costly to smaller businesses, the Office of Advocacy provided the DOL with economic data, patterns of business hiring and the advice of thousands of small businesses on how to change (or get rid of) the proposed rule.

In both examples, while the Office of Advocacy was not able to eliminate the proposed regulations – they were able to provide real-world trends and financial data to reinforce recommendations for changes to the proposed rules.  In both cases, advice from the Office of Advocacy was heeded in part, and Advocacy fingerprints can be seen in some of the more reasonable concessions made for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Today’s panel helped introduce the SBA Advocacy Office mission and operating framework for their role as the ‘voice of small business in government.’ The Office of Advocacy files comments on behalf of businesses for developing changes to proposed federal rules, and the Office of Advocacy works to establish business cases and amicus briefs to be used if/when rules are challenged in the courts.  Our panel of experts today included:

Chief Counsel for SBA Advocacy, Darryl DePriest;
Assistant Chief Counsel Janis Reyes;
Assistant Chief Counsel Dillon Taylor;
Regulatory Analyst Jonathan Porat; and,
Regulatory Economist Lindsay Sherber

If you have any questions for the SBA Advocacy Office, or wish to share official comments you have filed on behalf of your business, you can contact John Hart at [email protected] or 303-844-0503.

For questions about the above panel or other federal policy issues, contact Leah Curtsinger, CACI’s Federal Policy Director, at (303) 866-9641.