During the past three decades, compensation for CEOs grew 127 times faster than it did for workers. Since 1950, the CEO-to-worker pay ratio has increased 1,000 percent. That is not a typo, but instead it is a bleak snapshot of our economic reality where unprecedented growth in Colorado has done little to benefit anyone who doesn’t have their name already on the building.
Wages for workers haven’t been able to keep up with the increasing cost of housing, food, and healthcare, while CEOs who used to earn 30 times the median wage in America now rake in 500 times. Despite this massive increase in pay for CEOs, no company I know of has eliminated its senior managers, outsourced them to China, or automated their jobs while they have publicly threatened their lowest paid workers the same fate whenever they ask for a living wage.
Instead of executive cutbacks, we now have more CEOs and senior executives than ever before in the state of Colorado and they pay the same exact tax rate as the custodians they pay minimum wage.
The ironic part? This unprecedented level of income inequality is self-defeating and negatively impacts not only the poor, but also the rich. This is because it has never been the CEOs who drive the economy; it has always been the middle class consumers. If a worker in the state of Colorado makes minimum wage, what proportion of that person’s income do you think ends up in the cash registers of local small businesses? Hardly any. The same can be true of a Colorado billionaire like Philip Anschutz, whose investments in oil, railroads, telecom, real-estate, and entertainment have allowed him to make 50,000 times that of average Coloradoan’s salary. However, Mr. Anschutz doesn’t buy 50,000 times the amount of shirts or cars or houses or groceries and cannot consume on the level 50,000 Coloradans can. His massive $13 billion fortune sits in an excel spreadsheet being under-utilized while Colorado residents are regularly forced to spend more than 100% of their annual yearly income in order to survive and forced further into debt.
Once I’m elected to the Colorado Senate, I will pass a bill limiting CEO and Executive Compensation to 40 times that of their lowest paid worker. We’ve done the math and that means if a CEO wants to pay themselves more than $1 million in a year, they will have to pay its employees more than minimum wage first. This is a crucial first-step in restructuring our workplaces and ensuring those at the top do not get to set their own salaries without considering how that will impact their employees.
We have the power to elect representatives, pass propositions, and ensure that the economic growth that has been fueled by workers, consumers, and everyday Coloradans does not end up in the hands of a few incredibly wealthy individuals.