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Bill to raise Hawaiʻi's minimum wage to $18 by 2028 heads to full House, Senate

MinWageSign_041322
Sabrina Bodon/Hawai'i Public Radio
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Nate Hix, director of Living Wage Hawai'i, attends a Labor for Living Wages rally on April 13, 2022.

With last-minute amendments, a measure seeking to raise the state’s minimum wage passed out of conference committee on Friday.

The bill that left the committee raises the state’s current $10.10 base pay to $18 in January 2028, two years behind what passed out of the House earlier in April.

HB2510 will now move the minimum wage to $12 in October, then to $14 in January 2024, $16 in 2026, and finally to $18 in 2028.

While both the House and Senate committed to raising base pay, there was disagreement on how quickly to stage the increase, with the Senate opting for a more aggressive, quicker approach.

“While we are disappointed that the Senate’s version of the measure was not included in the final conference draft, I am pleased that we will at least be able to start providing wage increases to workers across the State beginning on October 1, 2022,” said state Sen. Brian Taniguchi (District 11) in a release. “Coming to a compromise on an issue of this magnitude is not easy and we recognize that this is not a perfect bill. But given the circumstances, we did the best that we could.”

Hawai’i last raised the minimum wage back in 2018.

Hawaiʻi Appleseed Executive Director Gavin Thornton said this is a historic moment and a "huge leap" in making Hawai’i’s wage livable.

“To make ends meet, someone would need to earn over $19 an hour,” Thornton said. “Currently, the minimum wage is $10.10, boosting it to $18, stepping up over the next few years, isn't going to get us all the way to paying people a living wage, but it's going to get a heck of a lot closer."

Thornton said that a raised wage would have a ripple effect on the economy.

“A minimum wage like this is going to have a dramatic impact for Hawai’i's working families and for the economy that they drive and support,” the advocacy group’s leader said. “These are the folks that the money that they earn is money that they spend in the local economy to pay their bills to buy necessities. So it's really important that we're ensuring that these folks are paid a fair wage.”

Lawmakers also opted to raise the tip credit, a practice that allows employers to use a portion of tips toward minimum wage. This version of the bill would increase the 75 cents rate to $1 by October, then $1.25 in 2024 and finally to $1.50 in 2028.

The bill also makes the earned income tax credit permanent and refundable.

“While we didn’t get everything we wanted in the bill, the Senate recognized that the only way to ensure wage increases this session was to compromise with our House colleagues on the bill’s final language,” Senate President Ron Kouchi said in a release. “Recognizing that not everyone will be happy with this outcome, I want the people of Hawaiʻi to know that the Senate will continue to work tirelessly to address issues related to the minimum wage and the cost of living.”

The bill now goes to a full vote in the House and Senate before being sent to Gov. David Ige to become law.

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