Some of the troops in the Colorado National Guard activated to help in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic may be earning a minimum rate of $20 a day, or $1.67 an hour.
Colorado National Guardsmen who are activated in an emergency by Gov. Jared Polis receive a minimum of $20 a day or receive pay based on their current rank in the military and their years of service.
It is unclear how many Colorado Guardsmembers are currently receiving just the minimum pay — the Colorado Guard said it was currently investigating.
The amount; however, may be a burden for those who are activated and are taken away from their ordinary jobs in the work week. Aside from emergencies, Guardsmembers throughout the country are typically required to work one weekend each month, in addition to two weeks out of the year.
New legislation approved by Colorado lawmakers this week is expected to change the status quo and increase the minimum pay for activated troops. The bill, which was first reported on by The Colorado Sun, would increase the minimum pay to that of an E-4 enlisted service member with over six years of service.
The proposed increase would raise the daily pay to $88.80, or $7.40 an hour, which is a minor increase from the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour; but less than Colorado’s minimum wage guideline of $12.00.
When 61 low-ranking CNG troops were activated during the Spring Creek Fire in 2018, their services costed the state a total of $1,220 at the $20 per day rate. Under the new proposal, their day’s work would cost $5,417.
The bill was first introduced in January, before the CNG was activated on March 13 to assist with the state’s coronavirus response, and was unanimously approved by the state House and Senate lawmakers. The soonest the bill, which was signed by Gov. Polis on Wednesday, could take into effect is August 5, 2020.
At least 216 people in the state tested positive for the coronavirus as of Thursday afternoon, and the state’s Guard activated at least 50 service members to help with medical support, logistical needs throughout their community, and a drive-up coronavirus testing center.
On Thursday, the National Guard Bureau announced that 27 states have activated roughly 2,050 National Guard soldiers and Airmen in the coronavirus relief efforts.
National Guard chief Gen. Joseph Lengyel said at the Pentagon that he anticipated the number of troops being activated may double “relatively quickly.”
Gov. Polis’s office did not immediately return a request for comment. Several of the bill’s sponsors’s offices were closed amid the near-nationwide quarantine.