Feb. 16, 2005 Delegate Donna Christensen joined her Democratic colleagues on the House Small Business Committee Wednesday in challenging the Bush administration's budget cuts to the Small Business Administration, and the Housing and Urban Development and Agriculture departments.
The committee released its annual report analyzing the impact of the FY 2006 budget proposal on small business programs government-wide. The report finds small business programs are again bearing a disproportionate amount of cuts in the budget, according to a release from the committee.
The 30-page report is available here.
"The President's FY 06 budget falls way short of meeting the needs of small businesses and will have far reaching consequences, not only in the Virgin Islands, but all across our country," Christensen said in a release from her office Wednesday. "Small businesses will not have the guidance and technical support that they need," she said, pointing to cuts in funding for Women's Business Centers, Small Business Development Centers and economic development programs.
Christensen had predicted dire straights ahead Tuesday when she spoke at the annual meeting of the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce. She said though the severity of the fallout would not be known until the end of the year, budget cuts were bound to have a big impact in the V.I. (See "Bush's Budget Should Be Cause for V.I.'s Attention, If Not Alarm").
Out of the 100 programs government-wide that offer small business assistance, such as access to affordable capital, entrepreneurial development and technical assistance, this year's report documents over 50 of these programs, up from 35 last year, that were slated for severe cuts or elimination. The overall average cut for these programs is nearly 80 percent, up 10 percent from the 2004 budget, with 16 programs facing severe funding cuts and another 35 slated for termination. Agencies hit the hardest were Small Business Administration (SBA), with 14 programs; Department of Agriculture (USDA), with 12 programs; and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), with eight programs.
"Every year when I think the budget can't get any worse, a new budget is released and proves me wrong," said Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, ranking Democrat on the Small Business Committee. "The administration's FY 2006 budget request for a third year in a row calls for near-record deficits, and provides a fiscal plan based on flawed social security and tax initiatives, which will be far from putting our nation's economy on the right track. And the worst of all is what this budget does to small businesses and entrepreneurs."
"We are ready to go to battle for small businesses and our communities," Christensen said. "I look forward to working with my colleagues to restore the funding and integrity of all programs that are critical to our growth and security.".
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