Minimum wage bill passes another hurdle, not everyone happy

Hawaii’s minimum wage is expected to get a boost for the first time in seven years.

The House and Senate approved SB2609 Tuesday, which would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by January 2018. The current minimum wage in Hawaii is $7.25 an hour.

The increases would be as follows: $7.75 per hour beginning on 1/1/15, $8.50 per hour beginning on 1/1/16, $9.25 per hour beginning on 1/1/17, and $10.10 per hour beginning on 1/1/18.

Tip credits would be as follows: 50 cents per hour beginning on 1/1/15, and 75 cents per hour beginning on 1/1/16; provided that beginning 1/1/15, the combined amount the employee receives in wages and tips is at least $7 more than the applicable minimum wage.

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks bout increasing the minimum wage, Wednesday, April 30, 2014, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Earlier, Senate Republicans blocked an election-year Democratic bill that would boost the federal minimum wage, handing a defeat to the president on a vote that is sure to reverberate in this year's congressional elections. (AP Photo)
“Hawaii joins a large and growing coalition of states, cities, counties and businesses that have given their citizens and employees the raise they deserve.” — President Barack Obama

Gov. Abercrombie is expected to sign the bill into law. In a statement last week, he said, “I commend our legislators for advancing the proposal to raise Hawaii’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. It is imperative to provide our lowest paid workers with the economic stability and security they deserve. Hawaii’s minimum wage earners have not had a raise from $7.25 an hour since 2007.”

However, not everyone is happy. Eddie Flores, owner of L&L Drive-Inn, says the hike would hurt his business.

Flores says an increase in the cost of food and other factors will mean unemployment for a number of his franchise part-time workers.

Sang-Hyop Lee, a professor of economics at the University of Hawaii said there are obvious pros and cons when it comes to increasing the minimum wage, but he also said it depends on which study you consider.

“I cannot actually take one side or the other, because depending on what kind of data they use, what kind of evidence they use, the results are widely different,” he said.

The bill’s passage was recognized by President Obama Wednesday.

“The Hawaii Legislature did the right thing for their workers by taking action to increase their state’s minimum wage to $10.10,” President Obama said in a statement. “I commend the state legislature and look forward to Governor Abercrombie signing the bill into law soon. Hawaii joins a large and growing coalition of states, cities, counties and businesses that have given their citizens and employees the raise they deserve.”

In Washington D.C., lawmakers encountered a different story Wednesday when Senate Republicans derailed a Democratic push to raise the federal minimum wage. The bill fell six votes short of moving forward, with every voting Republican but one voting no.

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