Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, today I join Chairman Bond in support of the Small Business Investment Company Technical Corrections Act.

The Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program is vital to our fastest growing small companies that have capital needs exceeding the caps on SBA's loan programs, but are not large enough to be attractive to traditional venture capital investors. The demand is clear: Last year, participating securities in the SBIC program invested $360 million in 495 financings. In Massachusetts, where there is an impressive community of fast-growing companies, particularly in the hi-tech industry, there were 140 SBIC financings, worth $145.4 million.

This legislation sets out to make five technical changes. They range from improving the incentive for SBIC's to loan money to small companies to structuring a fairer formula for determining whether companies of the same revenue size can quality for SBIC financing. One of the most important changes will increase the authorized levels for participating securities.

The Participating Securities component of the SBIC program invests principally in the equities of new or expanding businesses. To leverage the private capital of participating securities and better serve these fast-growing businesses, I supported Senator Lieberman's amendment to H.R. 3412 during the last Congress, which would have raised the authorization level for participating securities from $800 million to $1 billion in fiscal year 1999 and from $900 million to $1.2 billion in fiscal year 2000. This bill passed the Senate Small Business Committee and the full Senate by unanimous consent, but unfortunately, the House was unable to act on it before the 105th Congress ended.

Since that amendment was introduced, we have seen that the need is even greater than those levels. The Administration anticipates faster growth in the SBIC program because of both its increasing popularity and the increase in additional personnel at the Small Business Administra tion to its SBIC licensing unit. In fiscal years 1997 and 1998, SBA licensed approximately 30 new SBIC's per year. With more staff devoted to the licensing unit, SBA projects that it will license more than double that amount in fiscal year 1999. Accordingly, Senator Bond's Act would increase the authorization level to $1.2 billion in FY99 and to $1.5 billion in FY2000.

Mr. President, I am pleased to cosponsor this legislation and I applaud the work of my colleagues on the Senate Small Business Committee, Chairman Bond and Senator Lieberman.