March 14, 2008


U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, praised passage of the Senate-passed Budget Resolution that included an additional $101 million more than the Administration requested for the Small Business Administration (SBA).  Senator Snowe has been a forceful advocate for additional SBA funds and sending two funding request letters last month to the Senate Budget Committee. 

“The Senate Budget resolution provides a balanced and fiscally responsible approach to support the SBA’s crucial technical assistance and loan programs to ensure that small businesses will not be shortchanged at a time when the economy is struggling to grow and create jobs,” said Senator Snowe. 

Senator Snowe expressed her concern about the Bush Administration’s proposed Fiscal Year 2009 budget for the SBA during a Committee hearing on February 27, 2008.  During that hearing, she noted that, “the Administration chose, for the eighth consecutive year, to release a wholly inadequate budget for the SBA, with a 27 percent decrease in inflation-adjusted dollars for the Agency’s core programs when compared to Fiscal Year 2001.”   The Senator pledged to seek funding increases for SBA programs, particularly given the vital role small businesses will play in reviving the slowing economy.

“The economy is growing bleaker by the day, but this Budget Resolution represents a bright spot for small businesses, the true job creators of our country,” said Senator Snowe.   “With this budget resolution, the Senate has provided the needed tools for small businesses in Maine and across the country to invigorate the economy.” 

The increased funds include the following:

Technical Assistance Programs

- Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) to $105 million (from $87 million);
- SCORE to $7 million (from $4.95 million);
- Women’s Business Centers to $17 million (from $11.9 million);
- Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZones) to $12 million (from $8.15 million);
- Veterans Business Outreach to $2.3 million (from $743,000 in Administration’s request) (this higher level was authorized in the Kerry-Snowe Military Reservist Veteran Small Business Reauthorization and Opportunity Act of 2008, signed into law on February 14th, 2008);
- SBDC Veterans Assistance Business Program to $3.25 million (new program contained in the Military Reservist Veteran Small Business Reauthorization and Opportunity Act of 2008);
- Energy Efficiency Outreach Program, a Snowe provision contained in Public Law 110-140, the Energy Independence and Security Act, to $3.25 million (from $0);
- Procurement Center Representatives to $11.6 million to fund a total of 100 contracting specialists (from $6.6 million);
- SBIR Outreach Programs to $3 million (from $0);
- US Export Assistance Centers to $8 million (from $6.4 million);
- 7j Technical Assistance to $5.5 million (from $1.5 million);
- Native American Outreach to $2 million (from $730,000);
- Microloan Technical Assistance to $20 million (from $0);
- PRIME  Technical Assistance to $5 million (from $0);

Financial Assistance Programs

- Microloans to $3.6 million (from $0);
- New Markets Debentures to $5 million (from $0);
- New Markets Technical Assistance to $5 million (from $0);
- Lender Oversight to $9 million to cover costs of site reviews  
- 504 Loan Program to $1.34 to reduce over payment of fees.

Finally, the Senate accepted an amendment to the Budget Resolution from Senator Snowe that would reduce barriers for small business cafeteria tax plans, which provide health insurance for small business employees.  In the 110th Congress, Senators Snowe, Bond, and Bingaman have introduced the SIMPLE Cafeteria Plan Act (S. 555).