Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I am offering an amendment that ensures the small business programs at the Small Business Administration are adequately funded for FY 2002 and can continue to provide loans and business assistance to the country's 24 million small businesses. It is necessary to restore and reasonably increase funding to specific programs, such as the 7(a) loan program and the Women's Business Centers, at the SBA because the current budget request would reduce funding for the agency by a minimum of 26 percent. These cuts come at a time when the economy is volatile and the Federal Reserve Board reports that 45 percent of banks surveyed have reduced lending to small businesses by making it harder to obtain loans and more expensive to borrow. This amendment also shores up resources for the agency's management training and counseling programs, which are sometimes more important to the success of small businesses than loans.

This amendment is not controversial, and it is bipartisan. I want to thank my colleagues--Senators BOND, BINGAMAN, WELLSTONE, LANDRIEU, DASCHLE, LEAHY, JOHNSON, SCHUMER, COLLINS, LEVIN, and SNOWE--for cosponsoring what I consider sensible and realistic changes to the budget.

In order to foster small businesses creation and growth in this country, we need to restore $264 million to the SBA's budget for FY2002. That amount would leverage $13.2 billion in loans and venture capital and counsel more than one million entrepreneurs. That may seem tiny compared to some amendments we've been considering, but let me assure you the impact is great on the economy. Small businesses provide 50 percent of private-sector jobs. For less than $2 per taxpayer, we can provide access to credit and capital for our nation's job creators.

Mr. President, every single State in this Nation benefits from the small business support the SBA provides. I ask my colleagues to vote for this amendment.