Under House Bill 2541, Hawaii’s minimum wage would be raised from the current $10.10 an hour to $13 by 2024.

But state Sen. Russell Ruderman of the Big Island and Maui Rep. Tina Wildberger say that’s not adequate.

They prefer at least $15 an hour, although most wage-increase advocates want at least $17 an hour.

Ruderman and Wildberger said this week that they will each pledge $4,000 of their salary to charity unless the minimum wage is at least $15 an hour.

Sen. Russell Ruderman on the Senate floor in 2018. He and a colleague are insisting on a $15 minimum wage, or else they’ll donate part of their salary to charity. Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat

“The difference between $13 and hour and $15 an hour works out to about $4,000 annually, which would go a long way toward basic necessities,” according to a press release from Ruderman’s and Wildberger’s office.

The pay cut would be made in January, when state legislators are scheduled to see their own pay increase significantly.

Based on the recommendations of the Hawaii Commission on Salaries last year, annual compensation of representatives and senators would rise over the next five years from $62,604 to $74,160.

Ruderman and Wildberger are both operators of small businesses.

“My heart breaks for the families who can’t afford to pay for their kids’ school lunches because the legislature hasn’t found a path to raise the minimum wage to keep up with the cost of living,” said Wildberger.

Said Ruderman, “We have exactly one tool in our toolbox to dramatically reduce poverty in our state: a major increase in the minimum wage. This will do more to address homelessness than all the multi-million-dollar proposals we are considering.”

Support nonprofit, independent journalism.

During this election season, we hope that our coverage provides you with the information to make informed decisions on issues that you care deeply about.

Whether it’s affordable housing, education or the environment, these issues depend on your vote, and our ability to report on them depends on your support.

Every contribution, however big or small, allows us to continue keeping readers informed through election day and beyond. So, if you found value in our coverage, please take the next step by making a contribution to Civil Beat today.

About the Author