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Minimum wage increase falters as legislative deadline passes

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Lawmakers failed today to reach a compromise on a proposal for a minimum wage increase before a self-imposed 6 p.m. deadline.

“It’s a damn shame,” Sen. Clayton Hee, chairman of Senate Judiciary and Labor, said after the conference committee ended with no agreement.

The state’s minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Lawmakers disagreed on the size of an increase and how long to take to phase it in as well as on the amount of the tip credit for service employees making less than the minimum wage.

The Senate had proposed an increase of $2 phased in over three years, with adjustments in subsequent years tied to the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers. The latest House proposal would have increased the minimum wage $1.75 over four years.

Supporters of the increase say it is time to help those earning the least in a state with the highest cost of living in the country. Businesses remain wary of too great an increase in a sluggish economy.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie, in his State of the State address in January, proposed an increase of $1.50.

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