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 cuts and changes to the Small Business Administration (SBA) in the fiscal year 2006 budget.

“This administration has already cut the SBA more than any other federal agency, and this year’s budget hurts small businesses even more,” Kerry said. “It’s obvious the administration only pays lip service to the struggles of small businesses because again and again they slash assistance to rural, low-income, women-owned, minority-owned, and home-based small businesses.”

Kerry’s comments reflected concerns with the President’s repeated slashing of the SBA budget over the past four years. Since 2001, the SBA’s budget has been cut from $900 million to $593 million in this year’s request. The President’s fiscal year 2006 budget proposal for SBA is an $85 million decrease from the fiscal year 2005 budget proposal. This year’s budget proposal:

• eliminates SBA’s small business investment company (SBIC) participating securities program, which provided $1.5 billion in venture capital to small businesses last year, and makes up 50 percent of all venture capital deals in the United States;

• eliminates the Microloan program -- 30 percent of microloan borrowers are African American, 11 percent are Hispanic, 37 percent are women, and 30 to 40 percent are rural;

• eliminates the Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs (PRIME), which provides in-depth business counseling to low-income entrepreneurs;

• eliminates grants for about 50 percent of Women’s Business Centers (WBCs), which helped 106,000 business owners last year;

• cuts $1 million from the Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs);

• cuts 20 percent from SBA’s Native American outreach assistance;

• provides no funding for the 7(a) loan program, instead choosing to increase fees on lenders; and

• again provides zero funding for Business Information Centers (BICs), the New Market Venture Capital (NMVC) program, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Rural Outreach Program (ROP) and Federal and State Technology (FAST) program, and the BusinessLINC program.

In addition, the President’s budget targets programs that help small manufacturers by cutting $62 million (57 percent) from the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) and eliminating the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) at the Department of Commerce.

The President’s budget for fiscal year 2006 was released yesterday. The Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship will hold a hearing to address concerns about SBA’s budget on Thursday, February 17, 2005, at 10:00 a.m. For more information, call (202) 224-8496 or visit https://www.sbc.senate.gov/democrat/