The Hana-bus has left the station

Colleen Hanabusa says she cares a lot about the working poor in Hawaii, but apparently not enough to read either of the minimum wage bills working their way through the state legislature right now.

Will Caron

Bart Dame, one of the principle figures in the Progressive Democrats of Hawaii, shared an interesting email he received a few days ago from the Hanabusa campaign on his Facebook, along with some commentary detailing why he believes this email shows how “out of touch” Colleen Hanabusa actually is when it comes to helping working class folks. Below is the email and Dame’s comments in their entirety:

I received a SHOCKINGLY BAD email from Colleen Hanabusa today. I think it demonstrates her approach to “issues,” particularly those affecting working and middle class people. Here it is, followed by my comments:

- - - - - -

Aloha Bart,

The minimum wage is not enough to keep a Hawaii family from living in poverty.

However, by raising the minimum wage in Hawaii to at least $9.25, we can lift a mother of two above the federal poverty line.

Raising the minimum wage helps Hawaii families. Stand with me today: call on our Congress and Hawaii to raise the minimum wage.

I have met women and families earning the minimum wage living in shelters. It is a heartbreaking scene that makes me wonder why there are those who oppose paying a living wage for hard work. That is absolutely unacceptable.

I recently submitted testimony in support of legislation before the Hawaii legislature that would raise the minimum wage, and I was proud to join others in Congress to tell Speaker John Boehner to call for a vote on raising the minimum wage.

Please, join me in supporting an increase in the minimum wage for Hawaii and our nation.

Hawaii’s poverty rate of 17.3% makes us the 9th poorest state in the nation. One in five of Hawaii’s children under the age of six - 22,000 keiki - now live in low-income working families.

Please, join our fight to achieve fair wages for Hawaii workers. Stand with me in supporting a raise for our working poor and our working women.




- - - - - - - - -

Here is why this message sucks.

There is currently no bill alive in the Hawaii legislature calling for a minimum wage as low as $9.25. The argument had been between $9.50 and $10.10 up until a couple of weeks ago, when it narrowed to $10 vs $10.10. Yesterday, the House agreed to the Senate’s call for $10.10.

So Congresswoman Hanabusa’s information is a few weeks out of date. But even going back to the debate occurring a few weeks ago, when she weighs in (belatedly) she supports a figure LOWER than what is being argued?

She says: “...raising the minimum wage in Hawaii to at least $9.25, we can lift a mother of two above the federal poverty line.”

Nice goal, but where does this claim come from? Does no one on her campaign own a calculator?

Here’s the ACTUAL math:

Minimum wage at $9.25 x 2,000 hours = $18,500

Federal Poverty Level for a family of 3 in Hawaii for 2014 is $22,470.

If Congresswoman Hanabusa is truly hoping to lift a working mother, with two children, above the poverty level, she would be calling for a minimum wage of at least $11.24, NOT $9.25.

$22,470 / 2000 working hours = $11.235 an hour.

Yet, Rep. Hanabusa takes the unusual step of intervening in a local legislative debate to give legitimacy for a $9.25 wage?

Further, she claims this would be a “living wage.” Er, no. Those of us who have been working to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 wish we could be advocating for a “living wage” instead of only a hike in the minimum wage, which remains significantly below what can honestly be called a “living wage.”

Given Rep. Hanabusa’s assessment that $9.25 is an adequate “living wage” for a Hawaii mother of two working fulltime, how are we to interpret her claim she supports raising the Federal Minimum Wage? The Democratic Senate Majority favors a bill by Senator Tom Harkin, which calls for raising the minimum wage to $10.10. Since Hawaii has a cost of living 55% higher than the national average and Hanabusa has told us $9.25 is adequate, where does she stand on the Senate Democrats (and President Obama)‘s for $10.10? If elected to the Senate, would she work to weaken the push for a higher minimum wage at the Federal Level as she has just done here, at the State level?

The glib platitudes in her email notwithstanding, the actual details of her proposal shows how out of touch she is with the realities facing Hawaii’s working people. And it shows an amazing lack of professionalism among her campaign staff that such glaring factual errors could go out without any of them catching the mistakes. But then, the salaries they are being paid are also astronomic compared to those facing that low-wage “mother of two” in Hawaii.