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Final Proposal to Raise Denver’s Minimum Wage Submitted to City Council

DENVER – Mayor Michael B. Hancock and Councilwoman Robin Kniech (at-large) have submitted their proposal to raise Denver’s citywide minimum wage starting this Jan. 1 to City Council for approval. Following outreach and feedback from five town halls, stakeholder open houses, and individual meetings with organizations, community leaders and residents, the revised proposal confronts wage inequity and cost of living affordability through a raise for 90,000 Denver workers, while giving employers three incremental steps to transition to $15.87 per hour.

“One of our most important values is not just creating an economy where businesses can succeed, but where people can succeed – an economy that works for everyone, where everyone has access to a home, a job and a future,” Mayor Hancock said. “Increasing people’s wages, so they can afford to live in Denver and continue contributing to and benefiting from Denver’s success, is what this proposal is all about. I’m thankful to everyone who has given us their feedback and voiced their thoughts, because it has led to a better and stronger bill to support Denver residents.”

“Our residents were clear, too many of you are working hard but still unable to make ends meet, and a wage increase is urgent – we heard you, and will proceed in 2020,” said Councilwoman Kniech. “We also heard that a smaller first step and spreading the proposal out over an additional year would help our small, locally owned businesses better prepare and adapt to higher wages – we heard you too and will be making these adjustments.”

Six weeks of extensive outreach garnered input from surrounding local governments and community stakeholders – including chambers of commerce, large and small businesses, businesses that employ tipped workers, workers, labor unions, business improvement districts, trade associations and industry groups, non-profits, and cultural and community organizations – on the initial proposal. Balancing that feedback, Mayor Hancock and Councilwoman Kniech’s final proposal would elevate Denver’s minimum wage to:

  • $12.85 an hour on Jan. 1, 2020;
  • $14.77 an hour on Jan. 1, 2021;
  • $15.87 an hour on Jan. 1, 2022; and
  • Annual adjustments based on the Consumer Price Index each year thereafter.

The tentative legislative schedule for the minimum wage increase proposal is as follows:

  • November 5: Proposal will be discussed as an informational item with public comment at Finance and Governance Committee.
  • November 12: Proposal will appear again as an action item with public comment at Finance and Governance Committee.
  • November 18: First reading at City Council.
  • November 25: Second reading at City Council with a one hour courtesy public hearing.

The proposal is co-sponsored by Councilmembers Flynn, Gilmore, Hinds, Ortega and Torres. 

HB19-1210 authorized local governments to set a citywide minimum wage greater than the state constitutional wage, currently $11.10 an hour and scheduled to increase to $12 on Jan. 1. HB19-1210 requires any local minimum wage increase to take effect on Jan. 1 of a given year, and annual increases cannot exceed 15 percent, or $1.75 an hour, whichever is greater. It also requires a reduction to the citywide minimum wage for any food or beverage workers who receive tips, at the exact same level as the state, $3.02 per hour.

Statements of Support:

“Working families are struggling to stay in the city they help build and maintain, and cost of living increases aren’t waiting another year. We urge Denver to adopt this strong proposal, which will bring a much-needed raise to 50,000 workers in 2020, helping them pay for rent, heating bills and snow boots for their kids.” – Work Here, Thrive Here Coalition

“For many Denver residents, a raise isn’t just a matter of dollars and cents, it is a matter of their health and life or death. Whether it’s skipping doctor visits because they can’t afford to miss a day of wages, or the depression and suicide risks that increase for those in economic crisis, or an inability to buy medication, national studies tell us that Denver will improve health outcomes for our residents if we raise the minimum wage.” – Jake Williams, Executive Director, Healthier Colorado