House District 55 candidates split on minimum wage

Christopher Kennedy

Dan Thurlow

The differences between the two candidates running for House District 55 were made clear in the first debate between the two men on Wednesday.

Democrat Chris Kennedy said Colorado’s economy could be helped by raising the state’s minimum wage, saying the additional money in the economy would spur consumer spending, and create a higher demand for more goods and services, all resulting in more jobs.

His GOP opponent, however, has an opposite view.

Republican Dan Thurlow said raising that rate would result in the opposite, causing businesses to hire fewer workers to make up for the greater payroll expense, leading to fewer jobs and a depressed economy.

“When the people who are dependent the most on social services have more disposable income by raising the minimum wage, that percolates into the economy outward and upward,” Kennedy said. “It creates more jobs, it creates more services and it creates more demand for a product. That’s where an economy is really pushed and developed.”

Kennedy said 13 other states already have raised their minimum wages above $10 a hour, and they are experiencing job growth.

Thurlow, however, doesn’t buy that argument.

“If you have to pay them $15 an hour, I guarantee you somewhere there’s a machine that can do that job, so it kills jobs, it does not create jobs over time,” he said. “It’s not the way the free-market economy works. It’s the price of labor. People will contemplate how they’re going to act rationally in the economy by what that price of labor is. If it’s higher, they’ll use less of it.”

The debate, sponsored by the Associated Members for Growth and Development, touched on several issues, including energy development, the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights and water, issues on which the two largely agreed, though Kennedy said he would support some local government control over hydraulic fracturing matters and Thurlow doesn’t.

Thurlow, who said he probably wouldn’t serve in the Colorado House for more than two terms, said the state could be more careful with how it spends taxpayer dollars, complaining about a recent announcement by the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control to purchase two spotter airplanes to locate wildfires.

Thurlow, who is a pilot, said the division is planning on purchasing two Pilatus PC-12 planes, which he called a “luxury” aircraft with jet engines.

Actually, it’s a single-engine turboprop that the U.S. Air Force Special Operations has used for nearly a decade in such places as Iraq and Afghanistan.


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