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Group of Hawaii Legislators Pledge to Donate $4,000 Each Until a $15 per Hour Minimum Wage is Achieved

February 26, 2020

Teenage Students Raising Hands
  • Hawaii Representatives Tina Wildberger and Amy Perruso and Senator Russell Ruderman each pledge to donate $4,000 every year until a $15 minimum wage is passed. $4,000 is the difference between $13 and $15 per hour for full-time workers.


  • The Hawaii State government says full-time workers need more than $17 per hour just to afford basic needs in Hawaii.


  • Despite campaign promises to enact a living wage, Governor Ige and the Democratic leadership are now proposing a meager increase to $13/hr in 2024. Both chambers and the Governoship are controlled by Democrats.


  • In contrast, the legislature approved to increase their own salary by more than $11,000 by 2024. The increases will bring a legislator's salary above $74,000 per year.

Following the decision by Governor Ige and House and Senate leaders to move ahead with only a $13 per hour minimum wage bill instead of the $15 per hour that’s being passed in many states around the nation, a group of Hawaii legislators have pledged to donate more than $4,000 each to help pay off student lunch debt in their local districts until a $15 minimum wage is reached.

$4,000 is the annual difference between a $13 and $15 per hour minimum wage for full-time workers.

Who Has Made the Pledge So Far:

  • Rep. Amy Perruso - Wahiaha, Whitmore

  • Rep. Tina Wildberger - Kihei

  • Sen. Russell Ruderman - Puna Ka‘ū


Workers Need Help

"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." says Tina Wildberger, Representative from Kihei.


Rep. Wildberger is the owner of Kihei Ice, and has been paying her employees $15 per hour since 2015.


Russell Ruderman, Senator from the Puna and Ka‘ū areas on the Big Island and fellow business owner, says that "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."


Where Does the Bill Stand Now?

SB2541, the bill to raise the minimum wage has passed both the House and Labor Committees. It will go to a final floor vote before moving on to the Senate.


The effort to raise the minimum wage in Hawaii above it’s current $10.10 per hour has been going on for years. In 2019, both chambers passed different versions of bills but never voted on a final agreement. In 2018 neither chamber passed bills to raise the wage.

Hawaii legislators will be receiving $11,000 raises by 2024. $6,000 will come in 2021, with the rest coming in annual increments after that.

Nationally, Democrats Overwhelmingly Support $15 per Hour

U.S. House Democrats have passed a bill to raise the national minimum wage to $15 per hour, but the Republican controlled Senate has blocked it. Every Democratic Presidential candidate supports a $15 minimum wage and more than 4 in every 5 Democratic voters support at least a $15 minimum wage. Eight states have passed a $15 minimum wage.


In Hawaii, affording just the bare necessities requires a full-time job paying more than $17 per hour. With the minimum wage at $10.10, this has led more than 250,000 workers earning less than this $17 living wage. Nearly 1 in 2 households are at or near poverty levels.


This strong stance from Representatives will put pressure on the rest of their Democratic colleagues to act in accordance with the Democratic Party priorities.


Living Wage Hawaii is keeping a tally of all the legislators who have pledged to donate part of their raises until the minimum wage is raised to $15 per hour. Want to ask your Senator or Representative to join them? Contact them here.

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