2020 LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES
Historical Collaboration to create a Joint Economic Package for Hawai‘i's Working Families
This 2020 Legislative session, the House of Representatives, the Senate and Governor Ige proposed package of bills to restore income equality to the working class in Hawai'i.
This package of proposals is based on the ALICE Report to better understand challenges facing working families that are often overlooked. Nearly half of Hawai'i residents struggle to make ends meet. The ALICE Report says the biggest cost drivers for the working class are taxes, housing, and child care.
This package addresses all three income inequality issues by putting money into people's pockets, providing child care, building affordable housing for working families.
COST OF LIVING INITIATIVE
RELATING TO HELPING WORKING FAMILIES
Nearly 48 percent of households in Hawai‘i struggle to afford basic necessities including food, housing, health care, and transportation. 62 percent of Hawai‘i jobs pay less than $20 an hour, with the majority of those jobs paying less than $15 an hour. With the high cost of living, these struggling families cannot survive off their monthly income and are forced to sacrifice their living standards.
HB 2541 aims to provide various tax reliefs for Hawai'i’s working class, including refundable earned income tax credits and increased food/excise tax credits. These much-needed breaks are estimated to return over $70 million to Hawaii residents and families. To further assist the working class, this bill proposes a gradual increase to Hawaii’s minimum wage, setting wage rates to hit $13/hour by 2024.
RELATING TO ACCESS TO EARLY LEARNING
RELATING TO LAND DEVEOPMENT
Since 2015, Hawai'i’s high cost of living has created a steady population decline, driving several residents from the State. Across the islands, rental housing can cost anywhere from $1,100/month to upwards of $1,800/month. For 55 percent of rent-burdened households, over 30 percent of their monthly income is dedicated to rent. As unbearable housing costs continue to rise, most Hawai'i residents will be displaced and forced to permanently leave the State.
SB 3014 is securing $275 million in general obligation bonds to incentivize affordable housing development and address the housing shortage in Hawai'i. This bill mandates that all development projects designate at least 50 percent of their dwellings as affording housing. Individuals earning below 140 percent of the average neighborhood median income can qualify for housing.
Childcare is the second greatest expense for Hawai'i residents, and unaffordable childcare costs have severely diminished preschool attendance in Hawaii. Nearly 20,000 children do not receive early learning or preschool education before entering kindergarten. For families that can afford childcare services, parents can pay over $1,600/month, depending on age and county.
HB 2543 will expand the resources, capacity, and affordability of public and private early learning facilities and programs. Starting with the Hawai‘i State Public Library System, new early learning classrooms will be established that address the physical, cognitive, linguistic, and emotional development of children. The State plans to partially subsidize childcare and preschool costs for Hawai'i’s working families to further relieve the cost of living.
Several of Hawai'i’s public buildings operate under substandard conditions. In our public schools, students are forced into poor learning environments and suffer through outdated electrical circuits, lack of air conditioning, and unaddressed maintenance repairs. More than 10 percent of classes are conducted inside portable structures, indicating the apparent need for improved school facilities.
SB 3013 establishes a school facilities agency that empowers the organization to construct and renovate Hawai'i’s public institutions in collaboration with the Department of Education. Besides structural improvements and repairs, the bill proposes the creation of new technology laboratories that further facilitate effective, productive learning for Hawai'i’s students.