As Conservative Group Grows In Influence, Financial Dealings Enrich Its Leaders

Source: Mick Dumke and Tina Sfondeles, ProPublica and Chicago Sun-Times, February 8, 2018

Illinois Policy Institute has called for government reform while channeling money to firms owned by insiders. ….

…. Through an often-dizzying series of transactions, Tillman and his associates have moved millions of dollars around five interconnected nonprofits they run, steering money to for-profit ventures in which they have a stake.

For example, in addition to his role as chief executive officer at the institute, Tillman is the board chairman and former president of Think Freely Media, another small-government nonprofit that once shared office space with the institute and received hundreds of thousands of dollars from it in grant money. ….

…..Tax records show that a handful of conservative, wealthy benefactors were key to the growth of the Illinois Policy Institute and its partner organizations.

Among them:
• The Rauner Family Foundation, created and led by Bruce Rauner, then the leader of a private equity firm. The Rauner foundation donated $625,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute between 2009 and 2013.
• A family foundation headed by Richard Uihlein, the leader of a packaging company who lives in Lake Forest. The Uihlein foundation has given $8.6 million to the institute since 2009 and another $2.4 million to the Liberty Justice Center and Think Freely Media.
• The Mercer Family Foundation, which has contributed $1.1 million since 2009. The family has been a major financial backer of President Donald Trump and, until a recent falling out, the far-right Breitbart website.
• Donors Trust, which distributes money to conservative groups around the country, including those led and funded by the industrialist Koch brothers. Donors Trust gave the institute and Think Freely Media $1.4 million from 2009 to 2015……

The Relationship between Union Membership and Net Fiscal Impact

Source: Aaron Sojourner, José Pacas, IZA – Institute of Labor Economics, IZA DP No. 11310, January 2018

This paper develops the first evidence on how individuals’ union membership status affects their net fiscal impact, the difference between taxes they pay and cost of public benefits they receive, enriching our understanding of how labor relations interacts with public economics. Current Population Survey data between 1994 and 2015 in pooled crosssections and individual first-difference models yield evidence that union membership has a positive net fiscal impact through the worker-level channels studied.

Workers’ compensation and the working poor: Occupational health experience among low wage workers in federally qualified health centers

Source: Liza Topete, Linda Forst, Joseph Zanoni and Lee Friedman, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, January 31, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background:
The working poor are at highest risk of work-related injuries and have limited access to occupational health care.

Objectives:
To explore community health centers (CHCs) as a venue for accessing at risk workers; and to examine the experience, knowledge, and perceptions of workers’ compensation (WC) among the working poor.

Methods:
Key informant interviews were conducted among patients in waiting rooms of rural and urban CHCs.

Result:
Fifty-one interviews of minority workers across sectors identified 23 prior work-related injuries and mixed experiences with the WC system. Barriers to reporting and ways to overcome these barriers were elucidated.

Conclusions:
Patients in CHCs work in jobs that put them at risk for work-related injuries. CHCs are a good site for accessing at-risk workers. Improving occupational healthcare and appropriate billing of WC insurance should be explored, as should best practices for employers to communicate WC laws to low wage workers.

Unreported Sexual Harassment: Should You Have A Crystal Ball?

Source: Maureen Minehan, Employment Alert, Volume 35, Issue 3, February 8, 2018
(subscription required)

As stories of previously unreported behavior ranging from boorish to egregious emerge, individuals across the country are wondering whether the employers involved were turning a blind eye to sexual harassment in their workplaces or if they were truly unaware.

The effects of 137 minimum wage hikes, in one chart

Source: Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post, Wonkblog, February 5, 2018

Last summer, a paper on the effects of Seattle’s minimum-wage increase made national headlines with its conclusion: The change made low-income workers worse off, not better, because it forced employers to cut back on hiring and hours to afford paying higher wages. …..

…. A little more than six months later, and minds have indeed been changed — among them Autor’s. He now says that other recent minimum-wage papers have underscored the limitations of the Seattle study.

Chief among those newer papers is a large analysis of the effects of minimum-wage increases that have occurred since 1979. That paper, co-written by Arindrajit Dube of the University of Massachusetts, was recently presented at the American Economic Association’s annual conference….

Related:
The effect of minimum wages on the total number of jobs: Evidence from the United States using a bunching estimator
Source: Doruk Cengiz, Arindrajit Dube, Attila Lindner, Ben Zipperer, April 30, 2017, Presented at the American Economic Association 2018 meeting

What’s the matter with Oklahoma?

Source: The Economist, January 30, 2018

Low teacher pay and severe budget cuts are driving schools to the brink. ….

Forty miles from Tulsa, sometimes along unpaved roads, sits Wagoner High School, with its 650 pupils, championship-calibre football team and show barn—a seemingly ordinary small-town school. But unlike most high schools, Wagoner is closed on Mondays. The reason, a severe reduction in state funds, has pushed 90 other school districts in Oklahoma to do the same. Teacher pay is the third-lowest in the country and has triggered a statewide shortage, as teachers flee to neighbouring states like Arkansas and Texas or to private schools. “Most of our teachers work second jobs,” says Darlene Adair, Wagoner’s principal. “A lot of them work at Walmart on nights and weekends, or in local restaurants.” Ms Adair hopes that Walmart does not offer her teachers a full-time job, which would be a pay rise for many.

The roots of the fiasco are not hard to determine. As in Oklahoma’s northern neighbour, Kansas, deep tax cuts have wrecked the state’s finances. During the shale boom, lawmakers gave a sweetheart deal to its oilmen, costing $470m in a single year, by slashing the gross production tax on horizontal drilling from 7% to 1%. North Dakota, by contrast, taxes production at 11.5%. The crash in global oil prices in 2014 did not help state coffers either. Oklahoma has also cut income taxes, first under Democrats desperate to maintain control over a state that was trending Republican, and then under Republicans, who swept to power anyway. Mary Fallin, the Republican governor, came to office pledging to eliminate the income tax altogether. Since 2008 general state funds for K-12 education in Oklahoma have been slashed by 28.2%—the biggest cut in the country. Property taxes, which might have made up the difference, are constitutionally limited….

….No fact embarrasses Oklahomans more, or repels prospective businesses more, than the number of cash-strapped districts that have gone to four-day weeks……

How to Hire

Source: Patty McCord, Harvard Business Review, January-February 2018

…. Making great hires is about recognizing great matches—and often they’re not what you’d expect. ….

…. In this article I’ll describe what I’ve learned about making great hires during my 14 years at Netflix and in subsequent consulting on culture and leadership. The process requires probing beneath the surface of people and their résumés; engaging managers in every aspect of hiring; treating your in-house recruiters as true business partners; adopting a mindset in which you’re always recruiting; and coming up with compensation that suits the performance you need and the future you aspire to. My observations may be especially relevant to fast-growing tech-based firms, whose rapid innovation means a continual need for new talent. But organizations of all types can benefit from taking a fresh look at their hiring and compensation practices. ….