Hawaii workers who are paid the minimum wage will see it grow from $9.25 to $10.10 in January.

But it won’t be going higher than that any time soon.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee has chosen not to hear a bill that called for annually increasing the wage until it reached $15 in 2021.

No reason was given for killing Senate Bill 107, one of a half-dozen minimum wage measures that all died early in this session of the Legislature. They could be heard next year.

Senate floor session at the Capitol. 12 april 2012
The state Senate in session. Friday is a deadline for bills to be heard, and a proposed increase in the state’s minimum wage isn’t going to make it. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Leaders in the House of Representatives said it was too soon to consider hiking the wage while it is still in the process of rising — even though Hawaii is one of the most expensive states in the country, and some states and municipalities have already moved toward a $15 hourly wage.

Currently, 29 states and Washington, D.C., have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Nicole Woo of the Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic said she was disappointed that Hawaii’s wage bills died early. Even with the increase to $10.10 wage in 2018, she said that after adjusting for the highest cost of living among the states, Hawaii will still have the lowest minimum wage in the nation.

“Looking ahead in this session, the Legislature and governor still have an opportunity to provide sorely needed financial assistance to our low-income and working-class neighbors, by reducing their heavy tax burdens,” said Woo. “A growing, diverse coalition of working people, advocates, tax experts and wealthy individuals has come together to support the tax fairness bills, Senate Bill 648 and House Bill 209.”

Both measures to expand tax credits for low-income people remain alive in advance of a Friday deadline for hearings.

The state’s leading business organization welcomed the news of no further increase in the minimum wage.

“We appreciate the acknowledgement by our legislators that now is not the time to increase minimum wage in our state, particularly with the increase that was passed during the last legislative session and when other costs, such as health care and other mandates, are on the rise,” said Chamber of Commerce Hawaii President and CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara.

She added, “Having the opportunity to evaluate the impact of last session’s increase on businesses and jobs before further increases are made is a prudent path, as well.”

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