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Grassley promises small-business funding

BY ALISON SULLIVAN | FEBRUARY 08, 2011 7:10 AM

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Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said Monday small businesses are essential to any local economy and the federal government would continue to fund them.

“Small business is the employment machine of our economy,” the senator said during a press conference Monday following Grassley a meeting with the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., on Monday.

Though the senator said he approves of President Obama’s proposal to extend small-business tax cuts, he feels the overall proposal is too narrow and needs to be broadened to ensure more efficiency.

The new bill includes around $12 billion in tax breaks for small businesses, in addition to increasing deductions for equipment purchases, health coverage for the self-employed, and start-up businesses. Proponents hope it will create 500,000 new jobs nationwide, according to a White House release.

Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, also told The Daily Iowan he also wants to offer tax cuts to help small businesses and he plans to propose a bill in the near future to reduce community property taxes.

While these measures will help, one small-business owner said it’s not enough.

“It would certainly help to provide a little more cash flow,” said Karen Kubby, the co-owner of Beadology, 220 E. Washington St. “But it won’t be enough for me and my employees to have health-care coverage.”

Health-care coverage for her and her employees is at that top of her concerns, she said
Paul Heath, the director of the University of Iowa Small Business Development Center, said funding for small businesses is crucial.

“Financing is always an issue … being able to obtain capital to expand businesses,” he said.

Chamber members said the annual meeting with Grassley was beneficial, but no immediate plans came from the discussion.

“It’s always productive because we are able to share projects with Sen. Grassley and his staff,” said Nancy Quellhorst, the president and CEO of the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber members said they also discussed bridge repair, health care, and higher education.

In a discussion with local media following the meeting, Grassley said federal funding would not increase to public universities the wake of rising tuition and decreasing state support for the institutions.

Though it is the state’s responsibility to fund institutions, he said, the federal government would continue to support universities in designated areas.

“The university funding comes from specific programs for specific reasons that the federal government gives to each university,” he said, noting Pell Grants and guaranteed loans as two options.

The senator said he believes Iowa typically does well in attaining support from areas aside from state funding.

Grassley said he and the Chamber of Commerce also discussed debt limit, earmarks, the possibility of a transportation bill, and the high-speed rail.

Regarding the Iowa City to Chicago rail service, he said the federal government is able to fund the rail, but it’s up to the state to move forward with plans.

“Iowa’s money for Iowa City to Chicago [rail system] is not in jeopardy by anything that Congress is doing now,” he said.

Bolkcom said he hopes Gov. Terry Branstad will be swayed on the issue. The governor decided to withdraw support for the rail system in January.

“I think it is really important for the region that we nail down the passenger-rail system,” Bolkcom said.


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