COLORADO — Coloradans made a lot of decisions in this month's election, from elected offices to tax policy. Some of the several ballot issues voters approved will have a big impact on businesses in the state.
With the pandemic, many businesses are feeling financial impacts. Some of the issues on this year's ballot will play a role in that.
Among one of the high profile issues on the ballot: paid family and medical leave. It's a topic that's been brought up in Colorado over the years at the state capitol. Voters approved the measure last week.
The program will take a few years before employees can take the paid leave benefits. The basics of the program allow employees after 180 days to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave (16 weeks in some cases for childbirth complications) and can receive up to 90 percent of $1,100 a week.
"I think it's an advantage to keep really good employees, it's certainly a cost to the business but it's a cost we think is worth it," Mary Oreskovich, co-owner of Bingo Burger and a supporter of the measure said.
Oreskovich and her husband Richard Warner own both Bingo Burger locations in Pueblo and Colorado Springs. Between the two locations, they have about 30 employees. Currently paid leave is offered to their managers, they say they're looking forward to now eventually being able to offer it to all employees.
"It is a cost that will come back to us with productivity, with loyalty, with long term employees- it is more costly for us to have turnover and train people than it is to pay the premium for our staff," Oreskovich said.
Other business owners, like Dave Jeffrey, CEO of JPM Prototype & Mfg in Colorado Springs are concerned about the cost.
"I think there's going to be some real challenges for small businesses to survive," Jeffrey said.
There are exemptions, such as businesses that already offer a comparable paid leave program. Self-employed Coloradans and local governments can also opt-out. Employers with nine or fewer employees will not have to pay premiums.
For a full look at the paid leave proposal, visit the following link: Election Guide 2020.
Jeffrey has about 30 employees and says he will also be looking into private options to see which is more cost-effective for his business.
While business owners seem to be split on paid leave, many business owners were happy to see the passing of a repeal of the Gallagher Amendment. The nearly 40-year-old part of the state's constitution limits the amount of property tax collected between homeowners and businesses, with businesses taking on a majority of the cost.
With the repeal passing, business owners could see residential assessment rates drop. As of now the 29 percent for businesses and 7.15 percent for homeowners will stay the same.