My public policy wish for the holidays – bring a little more joy and tangible purchasing power to low income working people

My wish for the holidays is that public policy advocates, individuals and organizations from across the state join together in requesting that the Hawaii state legislature, upon the opening of the 2020 legislative session – reconvene the conference committee for HB1191 SD2, and promptly pass a strong minimum wage bill.

There has been plenty of time during the past 6 months for the House/Senate Conferees to come to an agreement.

The community should not be forced to go through the entire dog and pony show again, only to wind up at the same place.

The steps needed are simple and straightforward:

1. Legislative leadership must convene the existing House/Senate conference committee for HB1191 SD2 – increasing Hawaii’s minimum wage to $15 by 2023
2. The committee should then remove the “business/health/tax credit” component and delink this aspect of the legislation from the minimum wage increase component. This “benefit to business” component is a separate issue and should be treated separately, and not used as an albatross around the necks of low income workers to further delay increasing the minimum wage
3. The Committee should then amend HB1191 SD2 to include an annual cost of living adjustment plus (COLA+), modest additional annual increases to keep up with inflation “plus”, until eventually over time the minimum wage will equal a living wage.
4. The Committee should then pass such a bill forward for a full vote on the floor of the House and Senate – prior to January 31, 2020.

Anyone who works 40 hours per week, deserves to earn a wage sufficient to provide a dry safe place to live, 3 meals a day, and basic health care.

Hawaii has the highest per capita rate of homelessness in the nation. Nearly 50% of our residents live in or near poverty.

The Department of Business and Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), says a single individual without children needs to earn at least $17.50 per hour just to subsist. Hawaii’s minimum wage sits now at only $10.10.

While minimum wage workers get nothing, legislators will get their raises as will the governor, the lieutenant governor and many other high-ranking government officials.

Business is booming also for just about everyone else. Tourism is at an all time high with visitor-counts at historic levels.

The economic forecast for the future is more of the same. According to the 4th Quarter 2019 QSER released by DBEDT on November 19, 2019, “Hawaii’s economy is expected to continue positive growth in 2019 and 2020. This outlook is based on the most recent developments in the national and global economies, the performance of Hawaii’s tourism industry, labor market conditions, and the growth of personal income and tax revenues.”

It seems everyone is doing better and making more money except for low income workers, whose wages are at best, flat.

Small businesses that fear negative impacts from having to increase their workers wages need only look at the recent history in Hawaii for reassurance.

When Hawaii’s minimum wage was increased from $7.25 to $10.10, nothing bad happened. There were no increases in bankruptcy, no increases in unemployment and no increases in inflation (outside the normal trend).

It is well past the time that minimum wage workers also share in the economic growth, the rest of Hawaii is benefiting from.

A strong majority of legislators including their leadership have in the past stated publicly and in writing their support for increasing Hawaii’s minimum wage to at least a $15 per hour.

These legislators should be given the opportunity to vote publicly for something they all profess to support.

Please join me in calling upon the legislature to do the right thing, and do it in January.

About garyhooser

This blog represents my thoughts as an individual person and does not represent the official position of any organization I may be affiliated with. I presently serve as volunteer President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) I am the former Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. In another past life, I was an elected member of the Kauai County Council, a Hawaii State Senator, and Majority Leader, and the Director of Environmental Quality Control for the State of Hawaii - in an even earlier incarnation I was an entrepreneur and small business owner. Yes, I am one of the luckiest guys on the planet. Please visit my website AND sign up for my newsletter (unlike any email newsletter you have ever gotten, of that I am sure) - “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We’re afraid.” “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We will fall!” “Come to the edge.” And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew. - Christopher Logue (b.1926)
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to My public policy wish for the holidays – bring a little more joy and tangible purchasing power to low income working people

  1. rexann dubiel says:

    Thank you, Gary! I want you to be governor! Aloha, Rex Dubiel

    Sent from my T-Mobile 4G LTE Device

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s