HONOLULU (KHON2) — A bill was passed Tuesday to increase minimum wage in Hawaii to $18 by 2028.

The senate voted unanimously to pass the bill. The House voted 48-3 to pass.

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But there were reservations about the impact on local businesses such as Sen. Gil Riviere.

“My support is there,” Sen. Riviere said. “My reservations are that I hope that we can consider the impacts on the small businesses, and let’s keep a keen eye on that over the next couple of years.”

The Retail Merchants of Hawaii knows all too well that higher pay for employees can mean harder times for employers.

“I had one lady telling me, she goes, ‘You know, I have five employees,'” said Tina Yamaki, Retail Merchants of Hawaii president. “She goes, ‘I can’t really afford this. I’m probably going to have to let two of them go and what’s going to happen is then I’m going to have to work 7 days a week.'”

Yamaki expressed concern that big companies will not hurt from these wage increases, but local businesses could start shuttering by 2023.

“I think you’re going to see it probably within the New Year. Or when this thing, shortly after this thing goes into effect,” Yamaki said.

The measure passed with a vote of 48-3 over in the House. Rep. Jeanne Kapela said it is well past time to give Hawaii workers a living wage.

“This is truly the work of Hawaii’s people.”

Rep. Jeanne Kapela, (D) Naalehu, Ocean View, Captain Cook

“When this bill’s final raises take effect in 2028, minimum wage workers will earn over $16,000 more than they do today,” Rep. Kapela said. “This bill is a huge win for working families and a historic victory for our state.”

The amended bill states wage hikes will happen like this:

  • Currently – $10.10
  • Oct. 2022 – $12
  • Jan. 2024 – $14
  • Jan. 2026 – $16
  • Jan. 2028 – $18

Gov. David Ige’s Office told KHON2 that the governor supports HB2510, but added it still needs to go through a review process before he decides to sign it into law.

The measure now heads to Gov. Ige for approval.

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He has until Monday, June 27 to put it on a list with intent to veto.