Worried about the future of freedom? Rest assured; assorted advocacy groups on America's political right are doing your bidding — though it's often enough on the far-off battlefront of our nation's capital.
President Donald Trump staked his first year in office on a blockbuster new tax bill — one that brought a much-needed overhaul to the country’s outdated tax code. He and Congress delivered, bringing home big cuts.
All is quiet on the minimum-wage front at the moment, but don’t think last year’s passage of Amendment 70 is any long-term cease fire. Advocates for higher rates will kick off the 2018 session of the Colorado General Assembly with a push to let cities and counties set their own minimum-wage rates.
New research put out by the National Federation of Independent Business is worth every Colorado policymaker’s attention. The minimum wage is not the only issue measured by NFIB’s Small Business Poll, Job Openings, an update on the one published 10 years ago. Other interesting findings include:
One-quarter of small employers have an open position they are trying to fill
Of those open positions, 56 percent are full-time jobs, 44 percent part-time
The percentage of small employers citing lack of specific skills as the reason a job applicant is not qualified remains unchanged between the 2007 and 2017 polls
The attitude and appearance of job-seekers seems to have improved from poll to poll.
Work history, social skills, legal issues, wage expectations, English/math competencies, and drugs were other reasons for applicant disqualification. Only the last showed a slight increase over the 2007 poll.
How small employers advertise open positions, how they’re compensating employees, how they promote, how they’re dealing with federal immigration requirements are also asked. It is, however, questions on the minimum wage that are most valuable for state legislators, given their direct influence on it.
“Would a minimum wage increase to $15 phased in over the next 3 years have a negative impact, positive impact or no impact on your business?”
Businesses with 1 to 9 employees—44 percent negative; 6 percent positive; 42 percent no impact; 8 percent don’t know
10 to 19 employees—58 percent negative; 4 percent positive; 29 percent no impact; 9 percent don’t know
All firms—47 percent negative; 5 percent positive; 39 percent no impact; 9 percent don’t know.
Taking the results from just the 1-to-9-employee group, the poll asked what immediate actions small-business owners take when hit with a minimum-wage increase. (Some would take simultaneous actions, which is why the percentages don’t add up to 100)
84 percent would raise prices
76 percent would take lower earnings
69 percent would not fill an open position
67 percent would increase wages
62 percent would decrease the number of employees
62 percent would reduce employees’ hours
57 percent would increase the use of less expensive or part-time workers.
Amendment 70 is not as draconian as the proposed minimum-wage increase in the Job Openings poll. It increases the rate by 90 cents a year until 2020 when it would reach $12 an hour. Still, the coping actions being taken now by small-business owners are the same, mainly higher prices for consumers and loss of job opportunities, especially for teens and young adults.
It is forever worth reminding everyone that the minimum wage is earned by just 2.7 percent of the nation’s workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and most of them tend to be young. “Although workers under age 25 represented only about one-fifth of hourly paid workers, they made up about half of those paid the federal minimum wage or less. Among employed teenagers (ages 16 to 19) paid by the hour, about 10 percent earned the minimum wage or less, compared with about 2 percent of workers age 25 and older.”
In short, the minimum wage is an entry-level wage earned mostly by teenagers and young adults. One major effect in increasing the minimum wage is eliminating entry-level jobs. Despite these facts, proponents of ever-increasing rates wrongly argue that they’re needed to lift people out of poverty, even though little to no evidence exists to back it up.
Not content with Amendment 70’s passage, minimum-wage advocates now want the Colorado Legislature to allow local governments the ability to set their own rates, which would create a crazy quilt of minimum-wage rates throughout the state and a commensurate paperwork migraine for every business.
If NFIB’s recent poll reminds of us of anything, it’s that costs have consequences.
The health care debate has so far focused primarily on patient impacts. As well it should, a healthy Colorado is in everyone’s best interests. But there are additional factors Congress should keep in mind as it considers legislation that could reshape Medicaid as we know it — the economic effects.
You’d think “Silent Cal” Coolidge, having uttered so few memorable words during his presidency, would have been quoted accurately the few times he did say something noteworthy. Yet, historians tell us the 30th U.S. president’s most cited line — often rendered as, “The business of America is business” — is at best a mangled fragment taken way out of context. The actual quotation was part of a lengthy and more nuanced defense of a free press. Coolidge may have been Republican to the bone, but his remarks weren’t meant as a gratuitous celebration of unbridled capitalism.
Today’s Republicans similarly will tell you their sympathies for business aren’t about amassing wealth in the hands of a few but about unshackling the forces that create jobs for the masses. Democrats and others beg to differ, of course, but it is that credo that the GOP invokes in seeking to cut regulations they say smother investment in jobs.
Hence, legislative Republicans’ perennial promise to make it easer to do business in the Centennial State, an agenda that advanced Monday in the state Senate.
Senate Bill 186, introduced in the upper chamber by the GOP’s Sen. Jack Tate of Centennial, would require state agencies that seek to adopt new rules to first, “prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis in which the agency considers using regulatory methods that will accomplish the objectives of applicable statutes while minimizing the adverse impact on small businesses.”
In other words, to tread more lightly when using the bureaucracy’s administrative power to impose more regulations on small businesses. The legislation goes into detail defining the parameters of the analysis.
The proposal passed the State Business Labor and Technology Committee on a bipartisan, 6-to-1 vote and now heads to the Senate Finance Committee.
The Senate GOP touted the measure late Monday in a press statement quoting Tate:
Tate…called his bill a potential “game-changer” for state regulators and the small businesses they regulate. “All this bill does is ask those who make the rules to do a much better job of understanding and analyzing the impact those rules are having on small businesses,” said Tate. “It also asks regulators to begin tracking and measuring their fiscal impacts, in recognition of how such regulations can add costs and complexity to business operations in ways that hurt their profitability.”
Without such requirements, it’s too easy for agencies to pile regulation after regulation on businesses, with no broader understanding of the cumulative burdens being imposed over time, said Tate. “Given how critically important these companies are to the state’s economic health, it just makes sense for regulators to take a closer look at how their actions can impact not just the bottom lines, but the survival of our small businesses over time.”
Cutting regulations on business — especially small business — is as much a part of the Republican brand as the elephant itself. A bill that Republicans are touting to do just that — by giving small businesses a month to fix minor breaches of state regs before fines are levied — passed the state Senate Monday on a voice vote and even picked up support from across the aisle. After a formal roll-call vote as early as today, Senate Bill 1 will head to the Democratic-controlled House.
The measure is being sponsored by the father-son tag team of Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, in the upper chamber and, in the lower chamber, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock.
The Senate GOP was pleased at the development. More so, perhaps, given SB 1’s uncertain-at-best prospects in the House. A press release from the Senate Republican communications office captured the moment:
“Our aim is to ensure that government offers of ‘help’ aren’t quite as terrifying as they were back when Ronald Reagan made his famous joke about the 9 most feared words in the English language,” (Sen.) Neville said, “because our bill requires state agencies to work cooperatively with small businesses that may be out of compliance with minor rules, rather than just bringing down the hammer.”
The press release noted, “The bill only pertains to relatively minor administrative rules violations, not those that potentially put public health or safety at risk.”
Does Colorado have an invisible $33 billion tax on employers that is holding back economic expansion and job creation? According to a recent report, that amount is the estimated annual cost of compliance imposed on Colorado employers by federal regulations.
To get an idea of the magnitude of this compliance cost, consider that it is fifty times the size of all corporate income taxes paid by Colorado employers.
Two decades ago, the U.S. Small Business Administration began sponsoring a periodic study by an independent team of economists to come up with an estimate of the annual costs imposed on American businesses by the thousands of federal regulatory mandates.
I have been a fiscally conservative Republican since I was a young man because President Ronald Reagan’s unshakable optimism in the goodness of America and his message of personal responsibility and the dignity of work resonated strongly with me. And that’s why as a business owner, I’ll be voting for Amendment 70 to gradually raise Colorado’s minimum wage from $8.31 to $12 by 2020.
Hillary Clinton will win the presidency in the Nov. 8 general election, bringing with her several economic, regulatory and tax concerns for small businesses, the chief economist for Visa told invited Denver-area small-business owners at a dinner presentation on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at the University of Denver.
Wayne Best is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Strategic Foresight Community and produces Visa’s business and economic insights reports.
Best said a presidential election prediction model developed by Visa and Moody's Analytics found Democratic candidate Clinton winning in Electoral College votes by a 332-206 count over Republican candidate Donald Trump. In the Electoral College system, the candidate who wins the most votes in enough states with a total of at least 270 electoral votes wins the election.