Lawmaker Questions Viability of Small Biz Budget

Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee. (Photo by AP)

With Valentine's Day approaching and "entrepreneur week" just around the corner, Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) is asking the president and his administration "where's the love" when it comes to small businesses.

The head of the House Small Business Committee criticized the commander-in-chief's most recent budget proposal: "This president is turning his back on small businesses at the very moment our economy needs them most. If we are serious about restoring our economic strength, there is no better way than investing in the nation's small firms. This budget does the opposite."

The chairwoman, who on Thursday heard testimony from Small Business Administration head Steven Preston, criticized the budget proposal to cut funding to the Small Business Development Centers, Women's Business Centers and certain loan programs.

"Access to affordable capital and a lack of adequate development resources have always been huge challenges for small businesses. This proposal should address that--especially in the current economic climate, but it only exacerbates the problem," said Velázquez in a statement. The budget plan also terminates microloans and fails to provide funding for certain programs helping technology startups.

The committee's top Republican, Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio, seemed more in line with the president's proposal, but acknowledged that "the small business agenda is significantly broader than the SBA budget."

Fellow legislator Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who chairs a Financial Services subcommittee, introduced a bill on Feb. 6 that would give credit card holders a "bill of rights," an interesting concept for small business owners who often turn to credit cards as a source of funds when bank and other loans are tight.

Meanwhile, up the street, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who heads the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship panel, introduced legislation last week designed to reduce loan costs. He has already criticized the president's budget plan for snubbing small firms and plans to hold a hearing on the matter.

The Federal Reserve released a report Monday showing one third of the nation's banks have tightened lending standards for small business loans. And the SBA Office of Advocacy's third quarter economic indicators (pdf) released Thursday show a trend last year of more businesses filing for bankruptcy although proprietors' income increased.

By Sharon McLoone |  February 11, 2008; 9:00 AM ET Regulation Legislation
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