Hawaii Home to vote on raises for legislators

Scott Saiki. Courtesy photo.

Hawaiian lawmakers are slated to receive two salary increases over the next few months, but a recent floor change is now likely to delay the move.

House spokesman Scott Saiki announced Tuesday that he had approved the amendment to suspend a commission recommendation on salaries to increase annual compensation for the governor and his cabinet, judges and state lawmakers in both the House and Senate have introduced.

If the suspension is passed, it will run until December 31, 2022, but it will not remove the salary increases. A vote was expected at the House of Representatives meeting, which began at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

The increases were recommended by the commission in 2019 before the pandemic started. After an initial delay, they should then come into force on July 1, 2021 and January 1, 2022.

The planned salary increases are currently set at 10% in July and a further 2.5% next January. Together, they would increase state lawmakers’ compensation from $ 62,604 to $ 70,584. The House Speaker and Senate President, who make more money annually than other lawmakers, would see a raise from $ 70,104 to $ 79,044.


Multiple sources at the Capitol have told Big Island Now that they expect the floor change to be passed and the wage increases delayed again. Based on the recommendations of the commission, the 10% salary increase was initially due to come into effect on January 1, 2021, but was postponed until July as lawmakers became squeamish about accepting more money while the state’s economy wrapped around COVID-19 Pandemic collapsed.


The introduction of Tuesday’s amendment by the House Speaker suggests at least a temporary fundamental change in Honolulu, as Civil Beat reported in March that Saiki had continued to urge the increases to be accepted during private sessions with other lawmakers – even during the Pandemic continued to rage.

According to the CB report, Saiki’s rationale was that it had been a long time since lawmakers had received a raise and public support for the ever-unpopular move by politicians to raise their own salaries would likely never improve.

Saiki’s thought processes have changed significantly, possibly influenced by the optics of pushing through pay rises for government officials while the same people advocate multiple tax hikes in public and remain inactive to raise Hawaii’s minimum wage rate.


The state’s minimum wage has been $ 10.10 an hour for the past three years, and Hawaii’s effective tax rate is already among the highest in the nation.

Some lawmakers, like Jeanne Kapela (District 5) of the Big Island, publicly opposed the pay hikes ahead of Saiki’s amendment on Tuesday.

“The fact that lawmakers feel they deserve a raise is really just not to be underestimated,” Kapela told Civil Beat in March. “You can call it really morally offensive, just absolutely terrible.”

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