Colorado minimum wage referendum follows Maine’s lead

Colorado minimum wage referendum follows Maine’s lead

Colorado Families for a Fair Wage has joined a growing national movement with the launch of a signature-gathering drive to place a referendum on the November ballot to increase their state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020. A similar question is already slated to appear on the ballot in Maine this year and similar referendums have also been filed in Arizona, Washington D.C. and Washington State.

“The problem facing families and our economy is the same thing – low wages,” said Lizeth Chacon, co-chair of the Colorado referendum campaign. “People with money in their pockets to spend boosts the local economy and creates jobs.”

In several additional states, the threat of potential referendums has prodded legislators to act, with wage increases passed into law this year of up to $15 by 2022 in California, $15 by 2019 in New York, and $14.75 by 2022 in Oregon.

Cities across the country, including Portland and Bangor Maine have also acted recently to raise local minimum wages.

“I’m working hard but still living in poverty –  I am one paycheck away from being homeless and I literally have to balance every dime to make sure I eat every day,” said Marilyn Sorenson, a Colorado home health care worker. “The truth is that the cost of everything has gone up over the years but my paycheck hasn’t kept up. People like me who work hard should be able to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table but more and more of us can’t afford even the basics.”

In Maine, the deadline to submit signatures for the $12 minimum wage referendum was met in January. In Colorado, fair wage proponents have until July to finish collecting the 98,952 valid signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot.

“Colorado is the latest state fueling a movement across the country to raise the shamefully low wages paid to tens of millions of workers and their families,” said Ryan Johnson, executive director of The Fairness Project, a national minimum wage advocacy organization. “Once again the people are not waiting for elected leaders to act – they are charging ahead with a ballot initiative and taking matters into their own hands.”

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