ImageThe House Minority Caucus urged caution today as two bills to increase the minimum wage to 120 percent its current level passed the Labor & Public Employment and Economic Development & Business committees.

“The Minority Caucus would like to see higher rates of employment and higher incomes for all workers across our state, but we’re concerned that Hawaii is still recovering from a bad recession. We should first focus on reducing people’s cost of living and growing our entire economy so employers can afford to increase wages without going out of business,” said Minority Leader Aaron Ling Johanson.

“Hawaii’s economy is getting stronger but is still on shaky ground,” said Representative Gene Ward, Vice Chair of the Committee on Economic Development and Business. “Many of these jobs won’t exist if employers are pushed too far. I echo the business community’s concerns that a 20 percent increase on January 1, 2014 could be too much too soon.”

HB 916, introduced at the request of Governor Neil Abercrombie, would require employers to pay at least $8.75 per hour beginning January 1, 2014 and would be tied to the consumer price index indefinitely. HB 1028 was amended to increase the minimum wage to the same level by 50 cents per year until 2016. The state last increased its minimum wage to $7.25 in 2007.