Democrats in the Iowa House today unveiled a series of proposals they say they’d deliver if they were in charge. Republicans hold a majority of seats in the legislature and get to set the agenda. One of the democrats’ ideas is to create a way for small businesses to get cheaper health insurance for workers. It would allow small businesses to join a larger group that would include government workers and even school district employees. Representative Bob Osterhaus of Maquoketa says, nationally, the cost of providing health insurance to a single worker jumped 21 percent in 2002.Osterhaus says rising health care costs are at the top of every Iowans’ list of economic concerns. House Democrats also would use state gambling taxes to provide the long-term financing for the new state economic development “Iowa Values” fund. Representative Janet Peterson of Des Moines says it’s also the goal of democrats to provide more money for smaller-scale community projects, including tax breaks for those who restore historic property. Peterson says “if Iowans want to lure new businesses to our state, we need vibrant communities where employees want to live and work.” In addition, Representative Donovan Olson of Boone says democrats would set aside 40 MILLION dollars for regional economic development grants. Olson says small communities and rural areas are just as committed to increasing the wealth of Iowans and expanding the economy, and legislators can’t afford to leave any part of Iowa behind.
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