Local Connection: Lawmakers’ Get a Raise
Originally published in Hawaii News Now, May 6, 2019
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -It’s shameful that Hawaii’s legislature adjourned last week without increasing Hawaii’s $10.10 minimum wage.
And adding insult to injury, while choosing not to help Hawaii’s lowest-paid workers, lawmakers ensured their own pay will go up, along with the Governor, his cabinet and state judges.
The governor will be getting an eight percent raise over the next two years, and in 2021, salaries for our representatives and senators will go up 10 percent. By 2024 they will be earning $74,000 for their part-time jobs.
The process of setting salaries for elected and appointed officials seems designed to avoid accountability.
A salary commission meets every six years and sets the rates. And unless it is rejected by the legislature, the raises take effect automatically.
This year lawmakers didn’t even bother to hold a hearing on the package, essentially approving it by default.
That’s a slap in the face to low-wage workers and their advocates who heard their lawmakers all but promise a modest $15 minimum, only to have negotiations fall apart late in the four-month session.
As Mayor Caldwell said, “We have a legislature controlled by democrats. I am a democrat. We can do better.”
Fact is - our lawmakers are doing better, financially at least, whether they do their job or not.