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Kilili lauds Bank of Hawaii for raising minimum wage, says NMI should do the same

(Office of the CNMI Congressional Delegate) — U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan praised the Bank of Hawaii for its decision to raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour beginning Monday.

The bank said the money it saved from the new federal tax law allows the increase. The $15 per hour amount is considered to be a “living wage” in Hawaii and will be paid to employees in the Northern Marianas and other locations where the bank has branches.

“Bank of Hawaii is showing the way for all the other corporations and businesses in the Marianas that are benefiting from the new tax,” Congressman Sablan said. “The bank deserves congratulations for its leadership.

“President Trump promised that businesses would ‘shower’ money on employees as a result of the new tax law reducing the rate on corporations from 35 percent to 21 percent. In the case of Bank of Hawaii that does seem to be happening.”

The bank also announced a $1,000 cash bonus for 2,074 of its employees, 95 percent of the bank’s total workforce.

“I am not a big fan of the tax law,” Congressman Sablan admitted. “It will reduce federal revenues, and that will force Congress to cut federal-grant programs. And because the commonwealth tax code mirrors the federal code, commonwealth revenues will also go down.

“That is a problem the Marianas Legislature will have to figure out either by raising taxes or cutting services.”

‘Raising the wage is good policy’

The congressman said he does think it is good policy to put more money into the pockets of working people, whose spending drives the economy. Sablan is an original cosponsor of the Raise the Wage Act in Congress that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour over a seven-year period.

Sablan said the Marianas Legislature should also look at raising the minimum wage.

“I know that Bank of Hawaii cannot be compared to a small local business,” the congressman said. “But, at least, getting all of the larger businesses in the Marianas to start raising wages to the living-wage level would be good policy.

“In fact, Governor Torres testified at the hearing on my CW bill, H.R. 339, this year that the Legislature was going to increase the CNMI minimum wage. The governor said that a higher wage will bring more local residents into the workforce and help reduce the need for foreign workers.

“And the GAO report on minimum wage and labor needs in the Marianas that I commissioned along with Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Maria Cantwell showed that as the minimum wage has gone up more local, U.S. workers have entered the labor force,” added Congressman Sablan.

“So, I would agree with the governor that having the Legislature raise the CNMI minimum wage is part of the long-term solution to the Marianas’ labor problem.

“And I would hope that he — and the Legislature — follow through on his promise.

“Bank of Hawaii is certainly showing that it is possible to start paying workers more.”

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/101200-kilili-lauds-bank-of-hawaii-for-raising-minimum-wage-says-nmi-should-do-the-same

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