Not Time to Raise the Minimum Wage in Hawaii

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”’Editor’s Note: Democrat lawmakers are pushing a bill to again raise the state’s minimum wage requirement, a proposal being fought by Republicans, some Democrats and a plethora of business owners who say they cannot afford the increase. Spokespeople from the National Federation of Independent Business, the Retail Merchants of Hawaii, the Hawaii Restaurant Association as well as independent business owners testified they cannot afford an increase. They say an increase will lead to higher unemployment, higher prices of goods and services sold in Hawaii and a reward system that will improperly compensate the entry level workers at the expense of more experienced workers due for a raise. Public and private union officials, however, are lobbying for the increase with one official from the AFL-CIO saying businesses should have to pay their workers $21 per hour, or what they call a “living wage.” Below is the testimony by Hawaii State Department of Labor Director Nelson Befitel made before the Senate labor committee Monday, Feb. 2, 2004, on S.B. No. 2145