President Bush's $3.1 trillion spending plan unveiled this week will keep federal small-business programs on a tight budget, critics say.
The proposed budget for 2009, which was sent to Congress on Monday, includes $657 million for Small Business Administration lending and assistance programs, a three percent cut from 2008 appropriations, according to lawmakers on the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
In the past seven years, the agency's budget has been cut by roughly 30 percent.
"This budget is more of the same from the Bush Administration," Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the committee's chairman, said in a statement. Kerry said the budget lacks sufficient funding for the agency's loan, venture capital and counseling programs, among other initiatives. It also eliminates all funding for its microloan program.
SBA Administrator Steven Preston called the spending plan a "fiscally responsible budget proposal which supports SBA's mission to foster small-business growth."
The agency says the budget represents a six percent increase in core operating funds over 2008, while boosting its lending capacity by 37 percent.