Counting Prison Inmates Differently Could Shift Political Power to Cities

Source: Tim Henderson, Stateline, January 2, 2019

More states plan to count state prisoners as residents of their home communities, rather than residents of the places where they are incarcerated — a change that would shift political power away from conservative rural areas to more liberal cities during legislative redistricting.

Many inmates hail from neighborhoods in or near cities, but most are incarcerated in small towns and rural areas. Counting prisoners as residents of their hometowns would, for the most part, boost the legislative representation of Democratic-leaning urban areas with large minority populations while diminishing the power of Republican, mostly white rural areas…..

‘Pay to Move’ Attracts People — Not Employers

Source: Marsha Mercer, Stateline, December 31, 2018

For decades, cities and states have tried to create jobs and boost their economies by luring out-of-state employers. Now some areas are trying to attract workers — one worker at a time.

Starting in January, programs in Vermont and Tulsa, Oklahoma, will pay people to relocate to those places if they work remotely. Other resident recruitment strategies in Florida, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota and Vermont include weekends that tempt tourists to stay, discounted rent, student loan assistance and free land…..

Pay for Performance in Modern Compensation Practices

Source: Sanghee Park, OnlineFirst, Compensation & Benefits Review, Published December 28, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Although researchers have long discussed the mixed results regarding the effectiveness of pay for performance (PFP), compensation research has not fully captured the complexity of the current PFP environments. Using individual data gathered from diverse organizations through an online survey, this study shows the current status of PFP environments that employees now face within an organization. The theoretical and practical implications for understanding the complex environments in current organizations regarding the effectiveness of PFP plans are discussed. Suggestions for future compensation research are also provided.

Millennial Motivation Issues Related to Compensation and Benefits: Suggestions for Improved Retention

Source: Daniel L. Morrell, Kristie A. Abston, Compensation & Benefits Review, OnlineFirst, Published January 7, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Millennials are currently the largest generation at work and will reach an estimated 75% of the labor force by 2025. Studies have shown that millennials hold slightly different attitudes toward work when compared with previous generations. They more readily change jobs and are generally less committed to their organizations, with an estimated 66% of millennial employees planning to leave their current company within 5 years. These differences in work values necessitate changes in current approaches to compensation and benefit packages that would better align with these changing values. The goal of this article is to review recent empirical data on Millennials as compared with previous generations and then offer suggestions for what changes might improve retention.

The 401(k) Student Loan Repayment Benefit Program

Source: John G. Kilgour, Compensation & Benefits Review, OnlineFirst, Published January 7, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In recent years, student loan repayment programs have emerged as the hot new employee benefit. However, their growth has been restricted by their lack of favored tax status. On August 17, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service issued a private letter ruling approving a proposal to create such a program within a 401(k) plan. In a deft piece of reasoning, the private letter ruling provides relief from the so-called “contingent benefit prohibition.” This article examines student loan borrowing, the private letter ruling and its likely consequences and limitations.

Reducing Risks Associated With Temporary Staffing Agencies

Source: Zoe J. Bekas, Employee Benefit Plan Review, Vol. 73, No. 1, January 2019
(subscription required)

Staffing agencies may provide the solution to a company’s short-term staffing needs. However, clients should not assume they can avoid liability for workplace issues by using a staffing agency; indeed, in some cases, a client is exposed to liability as a result of using a staffing agency. Engaging a staffing agency provides no protection against employment liability and, in some circumstances, the temporary worker may seek to hold the client liable as if it had hired the temporary worker directly, under a “joint employer” theory.

Infrastructure: Elixir for Long-Term Pension Liabilities?

Source: Daniel Bauer, PA Times, January 4, 2019

Two primary drivers critically impacting both budgetary considerations and public policy processes for the foreseeable future regardless of revenue and service selection are pension liabilities and infrastructure. One tends to be historical in context while the other is futuristic in its scope. Both pension liabilities and infrastructure face headwinds. Both issues transcend interest groups. Both issues potentially advocate fairness and social equity across a broader spectrum of citizens arguably more so than others.

In this continuing series of articles exploring public infrastructure, the combination of unfunded liabilities for both public pension funds (estimates range from US$1-$3 trillion) and infrastructure (estimates ranging from US$1-$5 trillion) conjure up public policy and financial dilemmas constraining even effective discourse. Over the long-term, as difficult as it is to imagine, maybe one unfunded liability poses an opportunity to resolve the other unfunded liability. Can infrastructure be an elixir for long-term pension liabilities? ….

Separated Children Placed in Office of Refugee Resettlement Care

Source: Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Inspector General (OIG), HHS OIG Issue Brief, OEI-BL-18-00511, January 2019

Key takeaway:
The total number of children separated from a parent or guardian by immigration authorities is unknown. Pursuant to a June 2018 Federal District Court order, HHS has thus far identified 2,737 children in its care at that time who were separated from their parents. However, thousands of children may have been separated during an influx that began in 2017, before the accounting required by the Court, and HHS has faced challenges in identifying separated children.

Trump’s Tax Cuts: The Rich Get Richer

Source: Center for Public Integrity, 2019

An in-depth look at how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 avoided scrutiny and made the rich richer.

The first part in our new series, “Trump’s Tax Cuts: The Rich get Richer,”  investigating the origin and impact of the 2017 tax law: 

THE TRUMP TAX LAW HAS BIG PROBLEMS. HERE’S ONE BIG REASON WHY
Source: Peter Cary, Allan Holmes, Pratheek Rebala, Center for Public Integrity, January 15, 2019

There’s no shortage of agenda items for the new Congress that’s just been seated in Washington. But lost among the anguished cries to reopen the government and enact ethics reform will be a lesser-advertised but crucial item: addressing major problems in the 2017 tax bill that President Donald Trump signed into law a year ago.

That the law needs fixing is not in dispute. Why it needs fixing is most vividly illuminated by contrasting it with another massive piece of tax legislation, the Reagan-era Tax Reform Act of 1986.

In the months leading up to passage of the 2017 tax act, Trump administration officials and Republican leaders in Congress giddily compared the scope of their bill to that very law. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, called their new bill, “the first action in 31 years since President Reagan’s reforms in 1986.” Then-National Economic Director Gary Cohn said the legislation represented the “most significant tax reform legislation since 1986.”

Measured by the magnitude of changes to the tax code, that is true. But in terms of how the bills were developed, deliberated and drafted by Congress — not to mention their substance — the bills could not be less alike. And therein lies an illuminating — some would say frightening — story.