Minimum wage bill passes Hawaii Senate

(The Center Square) – A bill that would raise Hawaii's minimum wage to $18 an hour by January 2026 has passed the state Senate.

House Bill 2510 would raise the minimum wage of $10.10 an hour to $12 an hour Oct. 1. It would increase to $15 an hour Jan. 1, 2024, before going to $18 an hour in 2026.

The bill has some differences from the House version, which would have raised the minimum wage to $11 an hour in 2022 and a $1 an hour more each a year until it reached $18 an hour in 2030. The Senate sent the bill back to the House on Tuesday for further consideration.

The bill was opposed by the Hawaii Restaurant Association.

"The restaurant industry has to be one of the hardest hit by the Covid pandemic since April 2020 and we have yet to recover.," the association said in written testimony to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. "Consumer apprehension on eating out will take time to recover. We feel that it will take us until the later part of 2022 for our economy to stabilize, provided that we do not face another Covid variant. Inflation is also running at an all time high of close to 7% and not slowing any time soon."

Some said it is not enough.

"Ideally, the minimum wage should reach $25 within the next several years, although $18 is a good step forward from the current $10.10 minimum wage," John Witeck said in written testimony for the Hawaii Workers Center. "But given Hawaii's high cost-of-living, much more is needed."

The Senate also passed House Bill 510 on Tuesday. It would establish an earned income tax credit.

"The tax credit, for the appropriate taxable year, shall be 20% of the federal earned income tax credit allowed and properly claimed under section 32 of the Internal Revenue Code and reported as such on the individual's federal income tax return," according to the bill's text.

Hawaii residents also will be able to claim the earned income tax for another six years if Gov. David Ige signs the bill into law.

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