Final Denver min. wage proposal pushes $15/hour wage to 2022; restaurant industry still cold on idea

By: Jennifer Kovaleski Nov 04, 2019

DENVER — Colorado lawmakers passed a law last spring that gave cities and counties, for the first time, the power to set their own minimum wage.

Denver is the first city to propose a hike under the new law, and Mayor Michael Hancock and Councilwoman Robin Kniech on Monday submitted their final proposal to the city council.

The final proposal contains changes to the initial proposal rolled out in September – mainly, it draws out the increase to above $15 an hour another year and adds a third-party complaint and audit process.

If the measure is approved by the council, it would increase the minimum wage to $12.85 an hour on Jan. 1, 2020; to $14.77 an hour on Jan. 1, 2021; and finally to $15.87 an hour on Jan. 1, 2022. Adjustments would be made each year afterward based on the Consumer Price Index.

The initial proposal would have increased the wage to $13.80 an hour on Jan. 1, 2020, and to $15.87 an hour on Jan. 1, 2021. Under the state law passed this year, annual minimum wage increases cannot exceed 15%.

Hancock and Kniech said Monday that the changes came after five town hall meetings, open houses and meetings with other stakeholders – which included chambers of commerce, businesses of various sizes, labor unions, tipped workers and others – over the past six weeks.

“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,” Kniech said in a statement. “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.”