HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The governor is proposing to raise the minimum wage in Hawaii to $15 an hour by 2024, while offering small businesses tax credits to offset the increase.
Under the governor’s plan, the current minimum wage of $10.10 an hour would go up to $11 in 2020 and then increase by $1 annually through 2024.
The plan is outlined in House Bill 1022, which has not yet undergone a first reading or been assigned to any committees.
In addition to boosting the minimum wage, the measure calls for setting up a $50,000 tax credit for small businesses to help offset the costs of boosting employee wages.
A number of states have already adopted legislation to move to a $15 minimum wage, and advocates for working families say requiring employers to pay a “living wage” is key to combating poverty.
But opponents argue that a $15 minimum wage is unrealistic — and could do real damage to small businesses.
Last legislative session, a bill that would have raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020 didn’t get very far.
There appears to be wider support for a slower move to the $15 minimum, however.
In his address on the opening day of the legislative session, House Speaker Scott Saiki said many working families in the islands are already having a tough time making ends meet.
“We need to re-examine wage disparity, while also considering the impact on those who pay wages, and especially small businesses that, unlike other states, provide medical insurance and other benefits to their workers," he said.