Local Connection: Raising Hawaii’s Minimum Wage
Originally published in Hawaii News Now, February 4, 2019
HONOLULU - It looks like there is consensus at the top of state government that the minimum wage needs to continue to increase in Hawaii.
The governor’s proposal to the legislature is for the hourly minimum wage to rise to $15 by 2024. The governor is also offering a three-year tax credit to ease the impact on small businesses.
This year we saw two major events - the Marriot hotel strike and the federal government shutdown - in which people who make much more than the current minimum wage found themselves needing assistance after missing just one or two paychecks.
That shows that Hawaii workers are living on very thin margins.
The last time the minimum wage was increased was a year ago, to $10.10 an hour. Because there was no increase approved by the last legislature, Hawaii’s lowest paid workers will not get raises this year, even though the local economy is booming.
$15 an hour is not a living wage - it is the minimum for someone just hoping to live with dignity and independence.
Waiting until 2024 doesn’t seem practical or even have a basis in reality. It won’t change the world, or bankrupt businesses, but it sure would help a lot of Hawaii’s families, if we can improve the timeline and raise the wage to $15 an hour.
Watch the video here.