Hawaiʻi lawmakers finish session after huge federal aid boost

Gavin Thornton, the executive director of the Hawaiʻi Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice, commended lawmakers for passing bills improving the state’s low-income housing credit and capping fees charged by payday lenders.

He lamented the legislature’s failure to raise the state’s hourly minimum wage from the current $10.10. “The pandemic wouldn’t have hurt nearly as much if our residents were just better situated coming into it, if they were making wages that paid enough to cover their basic needs,” Thornton said.

Thornton said he is disappointed lawmakers didn’t pass bills that would have raised taxes on the state’s top income tax bracket, or those earning more than $200,000 a year, and hiked the capital gains tax and tobacco tax.

He argued the state would benefit “if we had a tax system that wasn’t so regressive, that didn’t take more from struggling families than it does from wealthy investors as a percentage of people’s income—a tax system, that is sufficient in terms of generating the revenue necessary to make real investments in people and infrastructure.”

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