Hawaii News

Several bills seeking to boost economic justice sponsored by Working Families Legislative Caucus

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A group of 14 state lawmakers focused on helping Hawai’i’s working families is sponsoring several bills during the 2024 legislative session intended to boost financial security for the state’s vulnerable residents.

Big Island state Rep. Jeanné Kapela

The Working Families Legislative Caucus, chaired by Big Island state Rep. Jeanné Kapela, is championing a bill package that includes measures to establish paid sick and family leave programs, strengthen access to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, tax capital gains at the same rate as ordinary income and create a state child tax credit.

“Working families need our support,” said Kapela, who represents state House District 5, which includes portions of Kea‘au, and Kurtistown, Mountain View, Glenwood, Fern Forest, Volcano, Pāhala, Punalu‘u, Nā‘ālehu, Wai‘ōhinu, Hawaiian Ocean View, Ho‘okena and Ka’awaloa. “As our state’s cost of living continues to soar, we must do more to increase the financial resilience of economically marginalized residents.”

The 2024 Working Families Legislative Caucus bill package includes:

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Kapela believes that paid sick and family leave programs are essential to public health.

“Roughly 200,000 people lack access to sick leave in Hawai’i, while people caring for newborn children and ailing family members don’t have paid time off,” she said. “No one should be forced to choose between caring for themselves and their families or earning a paycheck.”

Enhancing tax fairness is also a priority for the caucus during this year’s legislative session.

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“We need to rebalance our tax code to uplift working families,” Kapela said. “A state child tax credit would provide an immediate financial boost to working parents. This could be paid for by taxing capital gains at the same rate as ordinary income, which the [Hawai’i] Department of Taxation estimates would generate between $130 million and $180 million per year for our state.”

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