Decades of research show that children who experience poverty are more likely to have health problems, more likely to start school at a disadvantage, less likely to graduate high school on time and more likely to live in poverty as an adult. Unfortunately, poverty and the challenges that often accompany it—a lack of access to healthy foods, crowded or substandard housing and high levels of stress, for example—are preventing too many Colorado children from being able to reach their goals.
The Colorado Children’s Campaign Board of Directors and staff support Amendment 70, which would gradually increase the minimum wage to $12 per hour, because it would raise the incomes of thousands of families living in financial stress and enable them to access more opportunity for their children. A number of studies on the impacts of increasing the minimum wage have shown that these policies reduce the risk of early childbirth, raise birth weight, and improve infants’ future educational and financial prospects.
Currently, a full-time worker earning the minimum wage of $8.31 per hour earns about $17,000 per year, only slightly above the federal poverty level for a family of two. If Amendment 70 passes, incomes are projected to increase for 20 percent of all households in Colorado, including 200,000 households with children. Most of the increased earnings would impact workers over 20 years of age, and households earning less than $60,000 annually.
Raising the minimum wage to $12 per hour would benefit all workers, including approximately 16 percent of white workers, 28 percent of Latino workers and 30 percent of black workers. In recent years, a coalition of worker advocates, including many organizations who work directly with low-income workers and communities of color, has advocated for increasing the state minimum wage so that it better represents costs of living.
If the measure passes, the Children’s Campaign will work with policymakers to reduce the impact of unintended consequences in critical areas. This includes ensuring that families have access to quality, affordable child care. We also want to ensure that individuals who are eligible for subsidized health coverage through the state insurance marketplace use that coverage, and do so at a level that maximizes their potential benefits while providing as much financial protection as possible.
For more information about the measure, visit www.coloradofamiliesforafairwage.org. To read more about our position on other measure on the 2016 ballot, please visit our online Election Center.