State lawmakers should follow president’s example

In his sixth State of the Union address, President Barack Obama challenged Congress and private businesses to “give America a raise” after promising federally contracted workers a $10.10 minimum wage. The president has followed through, signing his promise into law.

Now the responsibility falls to our federal and local representatives to step up to the plate and support their constituents’ rights to a fair wage.

The majority of minimum-wage workers in the U.S. are not teenagers working a summer job. In fact, according to the Economic Policy Institute, 88 percent of them are adults over the age of 20 trying to survive on pay that is simply not enough, especially in Hawaii where the cost of living is so high. Women make up two-thirds of minimum-wage workers, many of them with children. Some minimum-wage workers are college students, struggling to pay their way through school with a part-time job (or jobs).

The issue of minimum wage is not about workers versus businesses. If the minimum wage is raised, low-income workers will have more money to pay for the goods and services that they need, meaning that they can spend more money, stimulating our local economy.

As our state legislators convene to decide the fate of a number of bills that would raise the minimum wage, I challenge them to follow the example set by our president, to do what is best for our state’s hardworking people and the local economy – give Hawaii a raise.

Wyatt Bartlett

Napili / Manoa