Iowa businesses may soon stop paying a surcharge that keeps dozens of state offices open around the state. The Workforce Development offices help Iowans who’re laid off apply for unemployment benefits and also provides counseling to job seekers. Governor Tom Vilsack says as part of the deal he and lawmakers are devising for a “special session” early next month, the money to keep those offices open would come from general state tax revenues rather than a specific tax on businesses. Vilsack wants to keep those offices open through December of 2006 using general tax revenues. He estimates Iowa businesses will save a total of six-and-a-half million dollars between now and then because they’ll quit paying the special surcharge that had been used to operate those offices. Another potential savings for businesses is included in the package lawmakers will consider next month. House Republican Leader Chuck Gipp says changing the rules for workers’ compensation cases may help reduce businesses’ insurance costs by as much as two-and-a-half percent. “That’s why it’s important,” Gipp says. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City, says the package will also include a tax break for businesses buying equipment — a one-time savings for businesses of about 70 million dollars. Rants says the economic stimulus package will leave a very compelling story for businesses” inside and outside the state.
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