Battle looms at State Capitol over raising minimum wage

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DENVER -- A battle is brewing at the State Capitol as lawmakers will hear new legislation Monday to raise Colorado’s minimum wage.

Supporters say raising the minimum wage would not only help more than 600,000 people earn higher wages, but it would help taxpayers save money.

Colorado's minimum wage is $8.23 an hour, or roughly $17,000 a year. On Monday, lawmakers heard two bills that would raise the minimum wage.

One would let local governments raise wages on their own. The other would let voters decide by putting a measure on the ballot that would increase the wage by $1 a year, bringing it to $12.50 an hour by 2020.

Supporters said if workers are making more money, fewer people would have to rely on federal assistance, reducing the cost to taxpayers.

“They’re living off of it, but they’re not doing very well, so they’re getting assistance through government programs, through food stamps, through all these other things because they can’t actually afford to actually live and afford their expenses," said Rep. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City.

But Republicans argue a higher minimum wage will force businesses to cut jobs because owners won't be able to afford to pay workers.

About 100 supporters rallied at the Capitol Monday afternoon before committee members heard the bills.

The proposals passed in committee.