HONOLULU — Hawaii lawmakers gathered Wednesday to open a new session of the Legislature a day after leaders unveiled a long list of measures they hope will address Hawaii’s punishingly high cost of living.
The Democratic majorities in the House and Senate on Tuesday released outlines of a joint bills package that would increase the minimum wage, make the state’s earned income tax credit refundable and use state lands to develop leasehold housing.
The measures would also expand early childhood education and create a new agency that will oversee major construction projects and repairs at public schools.
Gov. David Ige endorsed the measures and appeared at Tuesday’s news conference with legislative leaders.
The measures respond in part to problems highlighted in a report sponsored by Aloha United Way showing that half of Hawaii’s residents struggled to make ends meet.
The study found 37% of Hawaii’s population have jobs yet can’t afford basic necessities to remain stable and self-sufficient. Another 11% of households live below the federal poverty level.