Report Title:

Basic Needs Budget



Appropriates $65,000 to DBEDT to contract for a basic needs budget for Hawaii to be submitted before the 2002 regular session.



S.B. NO.









relating to the computation of a basic needs budget.



SECTION 1. In 1999, the house of representatives adopted House Resolution No. 228 supporting the goal of securing a "living wage" for workers in the State of Hawaii. The resolution recognized that low-wage workers in Hawaii struggle to keep up with the cost of living.

Current welfare policies are moving people into jobs, thus reducing part of the State's fiscal burden. However, many who move from welfare to work are employed in low-wage, entry-level jobs.

In order to better fashion public policy and to better make workforce development and economic decisions that enhance the quality of life for low-income Hawaii residents, further research is needed.

To this end, it is necessary to establish standardized benchmarks using consistent methodology by which to measure both basic needs and the progress of our state economy. Federal poverty guidelines, developed in the 1950s, are outdated. Thus, no mechanism exists to accurately reflect changing patterns of need and consumption.

In the summer of 2000, the American Friends Service Committee issued the first Hawaii study of self-sufficiency needs. Their report, "Barely Making It On Your Own in Hawaii," was modeled on the self-sufficiency standard developed by Dr. Diana Pearce, who is the former director of Wider Opportunities for Women in Washington, D.C., which has been utilized in dozens of states and municipalities throughout the country. The purpose of the Act is to compute a basic needs budget to maintain a decent standard of living in Hawaii.

SECTION 2. (a) The department of business, economic development, and tourism shall contract for an independent study to calculate a basic needs budget that includes a computation of baseline data of living costs beginning on July 1, 2001. The report shall include a calculation of the amount of money needed to maintain a decent standard of living in Hawaii, using current state and federal data for determining monthly expenses such as food, housing, transportation, child care, utilities, personal expenses, health care, and taxes. The report shall also account for relevant tax credits, geographical community variations in costs, and various household configurations such as household size, and number and age of children.

(b) The report shall be submitted no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the regular session of 2002 to the governor, the legislature, the departments of human services and labor and industrial relations, state and county workforce development boards, the state commission on the status of women, and to the department of education for distribution in all public libraries.

(c) The department shall form an ad hoc volunteer advisory panel, including representatives from business organizations, labor groups, and welfare rights advocacy groups to ensure community involvement. The ad hoc committee shall terminate upon the submission of the report.

SECTION 3. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $65,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2001-2002, to fund the study on a basic needs budget. The sum appropriated shall be expended by the department of business, economic development, and tourism for the purposes of this Act.

SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect upon approval except that section 3 shall take effect on July 1, 2001.