Business/Economy, Denver, Featured

Why not a ‘Mile High’ minimum wage?

President Obama has been making the minimum wage an issue for the last year when he announced his plan for a $10.10 minimum wage in the 2014 State of the Union address.

A local talk radio host wants to take the President’s idea to new, Denver-based heights.

On Tuesday’s edition of The Michael Brown Show on 630 KHOW, Brown floated the idea of a $52.80 minimum wage — but only for the City and County of Denver.  In a previous show, Brown called the idea, “A Mile High Wage for the Mile High City.”

But what’s most notable about Brown’s proposal is he could conceivably put the question to a popular vote to the citizens of Denver via the petition process, which could put elected officials like Mayor Michael Hancock in a bind.  Collecting enough signatures can sometimes be a costly proposition, but in his segment on Tuesday, Brown suggested he would “crowdsource” the funding from conservatives nationwide who have often made the “reductio ad absurdum” argument about the minimum wage.

630 KHOW radio host Michael Brown
630 KHOW radio host Michael Brown

“I don’t know how much money I need, maybe 20, 30 thousand dollars.  And we’ll get a petition to raise the minimum wage in the City and County of Denver to $52.80,” Brown said. “If the minimum wage helps people live, it creates more jobs, it does all of these wonderful things by itself, then why stop at 15 dollars an hour?”

The $15/hr minimum wage has been a point of recent controversy in California. Voters in San Francisco approved a $15/hr minimum wage, but the debate took a dramatic turn when a beloved community bookstore announced they’d have to shutter their business because they couldn’t keep up with the new payroll demands.

“I bet I could get enough of the yahoos and goobers on the 16th Street Mall, I could have that petition ready to file in two weeks,” Brown added.

If an increase in the minimum wage were to be put to a vote of the people, the idea would have to wait until after the upcoming Spring election, as a handful of deadlines in the petition process for that election have already passed.  As of now, an initiative only needs 6,129 valid signatures to make it to the Denver ballot, according to the Denver elections office.  That number, however, could change after the May vote.  The number of signatures needed is based on a percentage of total votes received in the last Mayoral election.

Brown is no stranger to politics, as he was formerly the Undersecretary for the Department of Homeland Security in the administration of George W. Bush.

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