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Star Advertiser Column: Candidates Should Back a Living Wage

Half of families in Hawaii are unable to afford their basic needs. This is the highest rate in the nation. Our situation is so dire because the cost of living for a single adult is $33,000, but our minimum wage is only $21,000 for a full-time employee. This has left hundreds of thousands of workers earning only starvation level wages.

This extreme level of man-made poverty means that the Democratic Party proposal to move the minimum wage up to a living wage is more important now than ever before, and to make living wages a reality we need to vote for the individual candidates that support this change.

The urgency of this issue was made loud and clear when the City and County of Honolulu passed a resolution this summer urging the State to raise the minimum wage up to a living wage. The council passed it unanimously in a 9-0 vote.

Unfortunately, as this policy has yet to pass in the state legislature, it’s clear that many Democratic elected officials do not align with the party or the councilmembers in supporting a living wage.

To help Hawaii residents know where candidates stand on this issue, Living Wage Hawaii has asked every person running for state office if they publicly support raising the minimum wage up to a living wage.

Governor Ige, Congresswoman Hanabusa and a majority of incumbent senators publicly support this change. Unfortunately though, only 13 incumbent House members running for reelection are supportive of this fundamental Democratic Party principal.

The names of all candidates in every state race are published online in the Living Wage Hawaii 2018 Voter Guide at

In order for a living wage to become a reality, we need to vote for candidates that support a living wage. If we don’t give our Governor and Senate the help they need to pass this in the House, it’s possible a repeat of 2018 will happen, where every minimum wage bill was killed without even getting put to a vote.

Of the 34 House races with more than one candidate on the ballot, 27 have at least one living wage supporter running.

As many of these candidates are being significantly outspent, it will take enormous people-power to get them elected. Hawaii voters have shown tremendous ability to fight and win for policies despite being out-funded by the opposition, and this year could be no different.

A victory here to guarantee a living wage for all workers would mean that we wouldn’t have to continue to work two or three jobs just to put food on the table. Our keiki wouldn’t have to come home to an empty house at night because their parents are busy working in order to afford rent. Our high school and college graduates wouldn’t need to continue to flee to the mainland just to live a dignified life.

A living wage will build an economy that supports all workers, and this will require voting for the candidates that support this vision. Explore and share the voting guide to help your friends and family make an informed decision for the future of Hawaii.

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