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Hawaii governor signs $18 minimum wage increase, tax refund

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii Gov. David Ige on Wednesday signed legislation raising the state’s minimum wage to $18 an hour by 2028.

The $18 minimum would be the highest dollar amount among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. However, some states automatically boost their minimum wage when the cost of living increases. California, which currently has a $15 minimum wage, could have a higher wage in six years time given inflation.

Hawaii’s minimum wage is currently $10.10 an hour. The new law raises the rate in increments over the next several years, starting with $12 on Oct. 1.

The bill makes the earned income tax credit permanent and refundable, helping low- to moderate-income workers cut their taxes and potentially increase their tax refund.

Ige also signed a measure providing one-time tax refunds. Individuals who earned less than $100,000 in 2021 and couples who earned less than $200,000 will get $300 per tax exemption. For a family of four, the payout could total $1,200.

Individuals who earned more than $100,000 and couples who earned more than $200,000 will receive $100 per exemption.

The bill also puts $500 million in the state’s rainy day fund and sets aside $300 million for state employee pensions.