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Senate committee pushes forward wage hike

By Anita Hofschneider

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 12:22 p.m. HST, Feb 13, 2013

A state Senate committee is pushing to increase the state minimum wage by $2 to $9.25 per hour.

The move comes a day after President Barack Obama called for a federal wage hike from $7.25 to $9 in the State of the Union address.

Hawaii's hourly minimum wage is set at $7.25.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted today to increase the wage to $9.25 over the next two years.

The committee also voted to adjust the wage along with inflation starting in 2016.

The committee originally considered the matter last week but met again today to adjust the wording of the bill.

Senate Judiciary Committee Vice Chair Maile Shimabukuro said the increase is necessary to help Hawaii residents afford the state's high cost of living.

"There really is a disconnect between the cost of living in Hawaii and the wages you earn in Hawaii," Shimabukuro told The Associated Press.

She said she knows homeless people who work but still can't afford rent in Hawaii.

"There's something wrong with that picture," she said.

Several social service nonprofits support the bill and urged lawmakers to adopt it during a public hearing last week.

The groups were opposed by members of Hawaii's business community.

Daniel Nellis, of the Dole Food Co., said the increase would hurt Hawaii's agricultural industry, which relies on affordable unskilled labor.

Jenai Wall, chairman of Foodland Supermarket Ltd., said the proposed increase would force the supermarket to cut jobs and reduce benefits.

Tim Lyons, vice president of the Hawaii Business League, said it's unfair to compare Hawaii's wages with other states because Hawaii businesses have to pay for health care and other benefits under state law.

"Given today's realities, there is no extra money for most companies to pay more wages," Lyons said.

Sen. Sam Slom, the only Republican in Hawaii's 25-member state Senate, was the only committee member to oppose the wage hike. Democrats have control over both of Hawaii's legislative chambers.

The minimum wage increase is part of Gov. Neil Abercrombie's agenda this year.

The Democratic governor told lawmakers in January that he wants the minimum wage to increase by $1.50 by next year.

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Fred01 wrote:
Raising the minimum wage will only help our economy if the state government is reduced by an equivalent amount.
on February 13,2013 | 11:42AM
1local wrote:
raise the minimum wage to match lawmakers pay... At least the people currently earning minimum wage work the whole year with no benefits and no retirement...
on February 13,2013 | 01:18PM
jm3 wrote:
Raising minimum wage is a great idea and long over due!!
on February 13,2013 | 12:02PM
st1d wrote:
no bill number, no bill title. not surprised with the lack of professionalism in reporters at the s/ad.
on February 13,2013 | 12:27PM
ISCREAM wrote:
I'll be closing my business....an additional $25,000.00 a year in labor costs...it is not worth it.
on February 13,2013 | 01:43PM
ISCREAM wrote:
There goes my retirement, my life.
on February 13,2013 | 01:56PM
ISCREAM wrote:
Using government data from January 1979 to December 2004, the effect of minimum wage increases on retail and small business employment is estimated. Specifically, a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage is associated with a 0.9 to 1.1 percent decline in retail employment and a 0.8 to 1.2 percent reduction in small business employment. These employment effects grow even larger for the low-skilled employees most affected by minimum wage increases. A 10 percent increase in the minimum wage is associated with a 2.7 to 4.3 percent decline in teen employment in the retail sector, a 5 percent decline in average retail hours worked by all teenagers, and a 2.8 percent decline in retail hours worked by teenagers who remain employed in retail jobs. These results increase in magnitude when focusing on the effect on small businesses. A 10 percent increase in the minimum wage is associated with a 4.6 to 9.0 percent decline in teenage employment in small businesses and a 4.8 to 8.8 percent reduction in hours worked by teens in the retail sector.
on February 13,2013 | 07:01PM
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