Bills Aim to Provide Economic Support for Working Class Families
The House and Senate introduced eight bills on Thursday that make up the 2020 joint legislative package to provide real economic benefits for Hawaiʻi’s working-class families and individuals.
The joint legislative bill package tackles the issues highlighted in the Aloha United Way sponsored report, “ALICE: A Study of Financial Hardship in Hawaiʻi.” The ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) report describes the economic hardships facing many working individuals and families in Hawaiʻi.
According to the report, after allocating monies to pay for expenses such as housing, child care, food, taxes, health care, and transportation, a family of four needs to earn roughly $77,000 a year simply to survive.
To address these concerns, the new bills filed include measures to provide tax relief for working families and individuals, to increase the minimum wage, to develop leasehold housing and provide tax exemptions for developers to build market price homes, to fund infrastructure development near rail stations in West Oahu and on the neighbor islands, to expand childcare options for parents near their work places, and to establish the School Facilities Agency to be responsible for all public school development, planning, and construction.
Makes the state earned income tax credit refundable and permanent. Increases and amends the refundable food/excise tax credit by basing the amount of the credit on a taxpayer’s Hawaiʻi earned income, rather than federal adjusted gross income. Increases minimum wage rate to $11 per hour beginning on January 1, 2021, $12 per hour beginning on January 1, 2022, $12.50 per hour beginning on January 1, 2023, and $13 per hour beginning on January 1, 2024.
Authorizes the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC) to lease real property for a period not to exceed 99 years for the development of certain projects that include affordable housing. Requires the HHFDC to submit a report to the legislature that identifies all state lands that may be developed for multi-unit dwellings. Authorizes the issuance of $200 million in general obligation bonds, with the proceeds used for the establishment of infrastructure to support the development of housing on lands near the University of Hawaiʻi West Oahu campus. Authorizes the issuance of $75 million in general obligation bonds, with the proceeds used for affordable housing infrastructure in counties with a resident population of 500,000 or less. Authorizes a state or county department or agency to petition the appropriate county land use decision-making authority, rather than the Land Use Commission, for a change in the boundary of a district involving land areas between 15 acres and 25 acres where the majority of the development will be for affordable housing. Authorizes the State Historic Preservation Division to delegate the responsibility of historic preservation project reviews to the impacted county. Establishes the Office of the Housing Ombudsman. Removes the existing statutory cap on the amount of conveyance tax revenues that are deposited into the rental housing revolving fund each fiscal year.
Transfers the Executive Office on Early Learning from the Department of Education to the Department of Human Services and renames the office as the Learning to Grow Agency. Focuses the jurisdiction of the agency to children who are 3 to 4 years old or will be eligible for kindergarten within two years. Establishes the goal of providing all children who are 3 to 4 years old or will be eligible for kindergarten within two years with access to learning through an early learning program by the year 2030. Appropriates funds.
Establishes the School Facilities Agency to be responsible for all public school development, planning, and construction, related to capital improvement projects assigned by the Legislature, Governor, or Board of Education. Transfers statutes pertaining to the Hawaii 3R’s and 3T’s programs to a new School Facilities Agency statutory subpart. Places management of school impact fees with the agency. Appropriates funds.