Submit testimony by Wednesday, January 30, at 9:30 AM for HB 1191 -- Relating to Minimum Wage
Late testimony will be accepted up until Thursday at 9:30 AM and will still be helpful.
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To the House Committee on Labor and Public Employment: Mahalo for the chance to submit testimony in support of HB1191, with amendments. Our minimum wage workers earn only $21,000 a year (working full time at $10.10 per hour) while facing the highest cost of living in the nation. For example, a Hawaii minimum wage worker would have to work 109 hours per week just to pay rent for a 1-bedroom apartment. HB1191 would increase our state's minimum wage to $17 in 6 steps from 2020 to 2025. According to DBEDT, the self-sufficiency income standard for a single person with no children and employer-provided health insurance in 2016 was $15.84 per hour, which comes out to $17 in 2019. Since HB1191 would provide for a lower wage for employees who receive employer-paid health insurance, it would make sense to make $17 the lower-tier wage, and then offer a higher wage for employees who don't get health insurance from their employers. Our minimum wage has been falling further behind inflation since Jan. 1, 2018, the last time the wage was increased. The minimum wage in 17 states plus DC have automatic inflation adjustments, and this bill would have Hawaii join them. However, tipped workers in Hawaii can be paid even less than $10.10. Seven states, including Nevada and all of the West Coast, have eliminated this sub-minimum wage for tipped workers and pay all of their workers the same minimum wage. Hawai‘i should join them, too, with an amendment to eliminate the tip credit. Research shows that higher wages are good for businesses, too. Between 2015 and 2018, Hawai‘i's minimum wage increased by 39 percent while our unemployment rate dropped and restaurants hired more servers. That's because higher wages improve worker morale, productivity and loyalty, which saves employers the costs of constantly hiring and training new people. And any extra money paid to minimum wage workers is plowed right back into local businesses, leading to positive ripple effects across our economy. I urge you to pass HB1191 with amendments. Thank you for your consideration of my testimony.
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