WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As part of his continuing effort to support small business, U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, today introduced a bill designed to spur job creation and strengthen our economy by providing essential tax credits and loans to small businesses. Key provisions of Senator Cardin's bill will make available urgently needed working capital loans, reward small businesses for creating new jobs, and help to offset the skyrocketing cost of health insurance.
Small firms pump almost a trillion dollars into the economy each year, create two-thirds of our nation's new jobs annually and account for more than half of America's workforce. Recognizing the vital role small business has always had in the overall growth of our economy, the bill also encourages elevating the Small Business Administration to Cabinet-level status.
"Maryland's 522,000 small businesses provide economic opportunities to diverse groups of people, employing more than 1.2 million citizens, and bring innovative products and services to the market. But without working capital, small businesses in Maryland and across the country cannot weather the current financial storm that has engulfed our economy.
"My top priority has long been to make it easier for small businesses to get the tools they need to survive and thrive. The legislation I am introducing is a sensible and fiscally responsible way to pump essential credit back into America's small business. It provides clear incentives to create jobs and helps mitigate one of the fast-growing expenses facing any business – health insurance."
Rapidly rising health care costs have made it increasingly difficult for small business to provide quality affordable health insurance to their workers, forcing more than half of America's small business owners to reduce or terminate health benefits for their workers in the last two years. With insufficient competition in the insurance industry and rising administrative costs, small businesses lack the buying power that larger companies have to negotiate affordable group rates and they pay up to 18% more than large businesses for the same coverage.
Senator Cardin's bill also reverses provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) that preclude small businesses from competing for research funds from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program, which is administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
"It was a severe blow to biotechnology firms across the country when NIH extramural research funding was exempted from their requirement to dedicate funding to SBIR and STTR awards. As a result, small businesses across the country, which the recovery package was intended to benefit, have been denied the opportunity to fairly compete for more than $200 million in grants."
Small firms employ 41% of the nation's high-tech workers and generate 13 to 14 times more patents per employee than large firms. The SBIR program alone has generated more than 84,000 patents and millions of jobs.
KEY BILL PROVISIONS
- Create a tax credit for health insurance expenses for companies with up to 25 employees.
- Establish a refundable small business tax credit for job creation.
- Provide direct loans to small business, according to existing 7(a) loan guidelines, using $20 billion in TARP funding.
- Encourage elevating the Small Business Administration (SBA) to Cabinet-level status.
- Repeal the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act exclusion of NIH funds from SBIR/STTR requirements, and ensure $150 million in grant awards to small biotech companies.
- Fully paid for through a temporary surcharge on incomes of individual taxpayers with Modified Adjusted gross Income (MAGI) over $500,000 and couples with MAGI over $1 million.
- Express a sense of Congress that large financial institutions have a responsibility to support the recovery of the American economy by increasing lending activity to qualified small businesses.
Senator Cardin was instrumental in crafting the small business provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which included his amendment increasing the limit on SBA surety bonds from $2 million to $5 million. He is a cosponsor of the Small Business Job Creation and Access to Capital Act, which would increase SBA loan limits and extend the government guarantees and fee eliminations enacted in ARRA. He is also a cosponsor of the Small Business Export Enhancement and International Trade Act, which would ensure small businesses have access to the resources and tools needed to explore new export opportunities in emerging markets, expand their current export business, create new jobs and compete in the international market. He has supported bills strengthening and improving the SBA's 7(a) and 504 loan programs and increasing funds for microloans.
As a member of the Senate Budget Committee, Senator Cardin authored an amendment included in the FY10 budget resolution that increased budget authority to fund the SBA from $700 million to $880 million, resulting in an increase of $137 million over last year's SBA funding and reversing eight years of flat-funding for the agency.
SOURCE U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship