2017 Legislative Priorities

During the 2017 legislative session, Hawaiʻi Appleseed is focusing on the following priorities:

1) Improving tax fairness
2) Increasing the minimum wage
3) Making housing more affordable 

With nearly half of Hawaiʻi households living paycheck to paycheck, these reforms will allow low- and moderate-income families to keep more of what they earn and bring incomes and housing costs down so that more of Hawaiʻi's residents have a genuine opportunity at achieving economic self-sufficiency.

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Improving Tax Fairness

Hawaiʻi has the second-highest tax burden in the nation for low-income households. Our lowest-income households pay over 13% of their income in taxes, while those in the top fifth pay 8% or less. For people who are on the cusp of self-sufficiency, Hawaiʻi's regressive tax system pushes them down into poverty, making them unable to afford basic necessities.

To address the unfairness of our tax system and give people a better chance at achieving economic stability, Hawaiʻi Appleseed is spearheading an effort to pass a tax reform package that helps balance the tax system, and relieve some of the disproportionate tax burdens on low-income households without the state losing a penny of revenue.  

To learn more about the tax package, visit hitaxfairness.org.

Increasing the Minimum Wage

Even after the 2014 legislature passed minimum wage increases that gradually step up to $10.10 by 2018, Hawaiʻi's minimum wage has not caught pace with Hawaiʻi's increasing housing costs. In fact, after factoring in cost of living, Hawaiʻi has the lowest minimum wage in the nation.

Hawaiʻi Appleseed has joined with others in our community in the Fight for 15. If Hawaiʻi were to join the increasing number of jurisdictions that are adopting a $15 minimum wage, the economic circumstances for Hawaiʻi's workers would be dramatically improved. About a third of the state's work force--200,000 workers--would see wage increases. 

Of those who would benefit:

  • The majority are women (57%). Almost 4 in 10 female workers (38%) would be affected.
  • Only one-tenth are teenagers. Over two-thirds are at least 25 years old (69%).
  • Just over one-quarter are parents (26%).
  • 3 out of 5 work full-time. 
  • Half have at least some college education.

Making Housing More Affordable

Last legislative session, Hawaiʻi Appleseed helped to lead the advocacy efforts of Partners in Care (PIC) in obtaining some of the strongest commitments to addressing Hawaiʻi's affordable housing and homelessness crisis that the state has ever seen. This session, we are aiming for a repeat performance, and pushing for the following resources:

  • $3.8m for outreach/services to help people find their way out of homelessness 
  • $12.5m for housing subsidies, including Housing First, Rapid Rehousing, and the State Rent Supplement programs
  • $124m to create affordable housing

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