HONOLULU (KHON2) — The State legislature opened another session on Wednesday, Jan. 15, with a sobering reminder of Hawaii’s high cost of living.
“As a community, we are at best treading water. At worst, we are drowning,” said (D) House Speaker Rep. Scott Saiki.
Lawmakers say that since 2016, 12,000 residents have left the state, 47-percent of all households cannot pay for basic necessities, and over 36-thousand households need affordable housing.
Lawmakers’ main goal in this session is to tackle that high cost of living.
“What we are fighting for here today is to fight for a place and carving a place for our Keiki to return,” said House Majority Leader Della Au Bellati. “We should no longer sell only to the highest bidder. We need to carve affordable housing so that our Keiki can return.”
The House and Senate on Tuesday introduced a joint economic package.
Among the measures in the package was increasing the minimum wage to $13 over a four-year period, providing better tax returns, and increasing affordable housing.