Minimum wage bills advance in House
Lawmakers debate whether to hike the minimum wage $1.50
The minimum wage hike is being considered as a way to help the state’s lowest paid workers.
Kristin Baquiro spent part of the afternoon going door to door in Kaimuki.
Baquiro had her resume in hand, and was collecting applications to find a part time job.
She already works as a veterinarian technician, but it is not enough to support her family.
"It is a struggle. I have to have at least two or three jobs," said Baquiro.
She was happy to hear lawmakers are considering raising the minimum wage to $8.75.
"That would be amazing It would be a big help because I really work hard, "said Baquiro.
The labor department says there are about 15,000 workers in Hawaii who make minimum wage or less.
The average salary of someone making $7.25 an hour is about $15,000 a year.
The $1.50 raise would be the first since 2007
Lawmakers were told that during that time inflation has risen about 20%
Some were concerned about tying the consumer price index to the minimum wage.
Given the nature of minimum wage, the language does provide that when CPI goes up the minimum wage goes up," said State Labor Director Dwight Takamine.
The Chamber of Commerce warned about the impact of the hikes
on businesses who have had to take on the burdens of rising insurance health and unemployment costs as well as utilities.
To Thai For is a family run restaurant in Kaimuki that has only been in business for three years.
"It has been very hard we have to save every penny because the profit margin is very little," said Natalie Porngam.
The owners say they will have little choice but to comply with state law, They hope to retain their reliable workers and not have to cut hours.
They say so far, they can handle the load but other companies like City Mill say
if they have to cut back, they may be forced to lay off workers.
Of the two bills advanced by the joint house committee, one would raise the minimum in January 2014, the other would phase in the hikes.
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