The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii testified in support of HB 2541, a bill passed by the House Finance and Labor Committees today to provide economic relief to working families through making the state earned income tax refundable and permanent; increasing and amending the refundable food/excise tax credit; and increasing the minimum wage to $13 per hour by 2024. HB 2541, which is part of the Legislature’s joint package to address cost of living issues, will now be voted on by the full House.

“The Chamber and Hawaii’s business community are committed to contributing to holistic solutions that make Hawaii affordable for our working families and recognize the importance of being part of the collective effort to ensure the challenges are met for the greater good of our state,” Sherry Menor-McNamara, Chamber of Commerce Hawaii President & CEO said. “The Finance and Labor Committees’ current draft of the bill balances economic relief for our most vulnerable residents with the continued support of Hawaii’s local businesses, which drive our state’s economy.”

“Hawaii’s business community, however, continues to face significant challenges regarding rising costs and new mandates, including the compounded impact of wage compression; rising costs of health care; related labor expenses tied to any increase in the minimum wage and new mandates; and a forecasted economic slowdown,” Menor-McNamara continued. “Therefore, continued discussion on how to improve the cost of doing business is critical as well.”

The Chamber’s testimony outlined these challenges, which include other employer mandates such as Hawaii’s Prepaid Health Care Act, Workers’ Compensation insurance, temporary disability insurance, unemployment insurance, payroll taxes and other voluntary benefit programs. Changing state and county regulation regarding expenses such as packaging, utilities and building construction add to the uncertainty that small business owners face.

In August, the Chamber launched its 4Hawaii campaign, which brought together diverse stakeholders to propose legislation and other business-led solutions to challenges in Economy, Entrepreneurship, Education and Environment.