Missouri businesses will pay higher unemployment taxes next year in order to pay down a state debt to the federal government.
Missouri began borrowing from the federal government in 2008 to pay jobless benefits after an economic downturn drained the state's unemployment benefits trust fund. That debt has remained outstanding for several years.
Businesses are paying a surcharge of $42 per employee this year to help pay down that debt. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry says businesses will have to pay $63 per employee in 2014.
People fired for sleeping on the job and missing work could have a harder time getting unemployment benefits under a bill endorsed by the Missouri Senate.
The Senate gave initial approval Wednesday to a measure expanding the definition of "misconduct" in the workplace. The change would make it harder for people to qualify for unemployment insurance after they are fired.
Supporters say the bill will protect businesses from liability and give them more freedom to fire employees who misbehave at work.