It’s probably a good time to offer a hearty “thank you” for the introduction and passage of Senate Bill 2018 to Kaua‘i’s own, state Senate President Ron Kouchi, and state Sen. Brian Taniguchi (Manoa), chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, Culture and the Arts.
SB2018 proposes to increase the minimum wage in phased increments from the current $10.10 per hour to $18 per hour by 2026. The bill passed out of the Senate with 24 votes in favor and only 1 against.
Credit for the skillful crafting of this straightforward measure goes to Taniguchi. The almost-unanimous vote in the Senate clearly is due to the strong support of Kouchi.
While this long-overdue increase still falls short of an actual living wage, it’s a solid step forward that workers in Hawai‘i have been waiting years for.
The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism has calculated that a “subsistence wage” for a single person working one job to be about $18 per hour today. In 2026, that same hourly wage is expected to exceed $20 per hour.
For those serious about public-policy advocacy, here’s some “inside-baseball” detail and, moving forward, strategy and pitfalls.
SB2018 passed out of the Senate on Jan. 28, and has sat dormant in the House for nearly two weeks.
If House leadership was as serious about increasing the minimum wage as their pre-session press releases have stated, SB2018 would have already passed out of the House and be headed toward Gov. David Ige’s desk.
But instead, they are stalling.
If you ask House Speaker Scott Saiki and members of his group if they support SB2018, they will tell you they have “their own bill” in House Bill 2510 (which they have made no effort to schedule, hear or pass).
HB2510, in my opinion, falls far short on its provisions to increase the minimum wage. It delays both the initial implementation, the incremental increases, and $18 is not reached until the year 2030 (instead of 2026 as provided in SB2018). In addition, HB2510 actually decreases the amount given to restaurant servers.
Yes, you read that right. HB2510 includes a provision that says restaurant servers will get less of an increase than everyone else.
HB2510 has not yet been heard by a single committee, is an unnecessarily complicated measure, and it short-changes low-wage workers.
SB2018 has passed all of its committees in the Senate, has gotten the support of Ige, is simple, straightforward, and treats low-wage workers with the respect they deserve.
Most retail and fast-food establishments are already paying $12 to $17 per hour and more. A first-increment increase that goes from $10.10 to $12 will hurt no one.
At the moment, only Saiki and his leadership faction in the House stand in the way of passing SB2018 increasing the minimum wage in Hawaii to $18 per hour, effective in 2026.
Economists predict increasing the minimum wage to $18 will increase the cost of a plate lunch by $0.60 in 2026.
I for one am willing to pay a little more if it means that someone working 40 hours a week can afford a dry, safe place to live, three meals a day, and decent health care.
One job indeed should be enough.
Ask our state House members where they stand
Where do Kauai’s Representatives stand on the issue of raising the minimum wage from $10.10 an hour? Please ask them directly and share with them your thoughts on this important issue.
• State Rep. Nadine Nakamura, District 14, Wailua Houselots to Ha‘ena, co-introducer of HB2510, firstname.lastname@example.org;
• State Rep. James Tokioka, District 15, Wailua Homesteads to Puhi, portions of South Shore, email@example.com;
• State Rep. Dee Morikawa, District 16, Koloa to Kekaha, Ni‘ihau, co-introducer of HB2510 and part of Speaker Scott Saiki’s leadership group as majority floor leader, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gary Hooser is the former vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i, and served eight years in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kaua‘i County Council, and was the former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action and is executive director of the Pono Hawai‘i Initiative.
Source: The Garden Island
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