Senate Oversight Committee Criticizes SBA FY09 Budget

President Bush's fiscal 2009 budget proposal for the Small Business Administration asks for Congress to fund the agency at $657 million, a 15 percent increase over the 2008 request, but as the head of the agency noted in a Monday conference call, the devil is in the details.

SBA chief Steven Preston, a former chief financial officer at ServiceMaster, said: "We feel pretty good about the plan."

The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, however, issued expressed concerns about how funds are allocated under the proposal.

Under the plan SBA would carry over about $150 million in disaster relief money it was allocated earlier to deal with the aftermath of several devastating hurricanes. That money plus some additional revenues would bring the total spending package for FY09 to $819 million.

The fiscal 2007 core operating budget for the agency, which has about 2,100 full-time employees, was $573 million.

The FY09 budget asks for more than $28 billion for the agency's core financing programs, including $17.5 billion for the 7(a) guaranteed loan program for new firms and $3 billion for venture capital support under the Small Business Investment Company initiative.

"This is a fiscally responsible budget proposal which supports SBA's mission to foster small business growth and assist home and business owners affected by a major disaster," said Preston.

The budget requests in technical assistance about $87 million for Small Business Development Centers and about $12 million for grants to Women's Business Centers and nearly $5 million for the SCORE initiative.

The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee issued a scathing statement criticizing the president's request, noting that "the Bush Administration proposes no funding for small business loan programs and deeply cuts counseling and outreach programs like Small Business Development Centers, Women's Business Centers and technical assistance programs."

Stay tuned for more reaction on the SBA budget.

By Sharon McLoone |  February 4, 2008; 4:23 PM ET Policymakers
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