WASHINGTON -- Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today expressed deep concerns over President Bush’s proposed fiscal year 2005 budget for the Small Business Administration (SBA).

“The President talks about the importance of small businesses but has repeatedly attempted to dismantle federal lending programs critical to the growth of small businesses across the nation. And the fiscal year 2005 budget is no different,” Kerry said. “Denying small businesses access to capital will not help create jobs, and it will not grow our economy.”

Kerry’s comments reflected his concern over the President requesting 15 percent less than he did in fiscal year 2004 for SBA programs, while increasing overall federal spending by 4.1 percent.

Noting the President’s statement during his Saturday radio address that this budget would reflect his top priorities, Kerry said, “I think the American people have a very clear view of the President’s priorities, and this budget makes it obvious that small business is not one of them. The President’s budget may be a boon for special interests, but it’s a bust for small companies.”

Compared to his fiscal year 2004 request, the President proposed cutting SBA’s budget by $119.5 million, which includes:

• zero funding for the SBA’s largest loan program

• eliminating the microloan program altogether

• a third year of no funding for the venture capital program for poor, underserved areas.

The President’s budget for fiscal year 2005 was released today. The Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship will hold a hearing to address concerns about the budget on Thursday, February 12, 2004 at 9:30 a.m. For more information, call (202) 224-8496.