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Congress Split on Entrepreneurship Funding

June 21, 2016


With August recess (which actually begins mid-July) fast approaching, Congress is working feverishly to produce appropriations bills for the coming fiscal year. Both chambers– the House and the Senate – draft separate funding bills, which are then merged into the final funding levels presented to the President. As with most years, differences between the House and Senate dollar amounts for entrepreneurial programming government-wide will need to be addressed before the FY2017 funding amounts are known.

The chart below compares current spending levels with AEO’s requests for FY17 and highlights the differences in funding from both bill versions:

Program

FY 2016 - Enacted Level

AEO's FY17 Requests

FY17 -  House Version

FY17-Senate Version

Treasury CDFI Fund

$233.5 million

$246 million

$250 million

$233.5 million

Treasury CDFI BGP

$750 million

$1 billion

$250 million

$500 million

Microloan Program Lending

$35 million

$44 million

$44 million

$44 million

Microloan Program Technical Assistance

$25 million

$31 million

$31 million

$25 million

Prime Program

$5 million

$10 million

$5 million

$0

Women’s Business Centers

$17 million

$21.75 million

$19 million

$17 million

Microlenders have reason to celebrate as SBA’s program received $44 million in lending authority from both the House and Senate— a 25% increase from FY16. That program, however, is the only agreement between the two. The House provided a 25% increase for Microloan TA to $31 million, but the Senate kept funding at last year’s level of $25 million.

The Women’s Business Center (WBC) program would get an additional $2 million in the House legislation, bringing their FY17 proposed total to $19 million from the FY16 $17 million. The Senate maintained that figure in their proposal. Notably, though, both the House and Senate increased their FY16 proposals by $2 million (the Senate was at $15 million in their previous, unaccepted legislation), highlighting the growing support for the much-needed program.  

On again, AEO’s efforts to save the PRIME program were successful in the House, which funded the program at $5 million. The Senate’s spending bill did not address the PRIME program, but the Senate has not provided funding for this program in previous years. Typically, the House numbers for this program have usually prevailed.

The funding for the Department of Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) fund and Bond Guarantee Program (BGP) similarly has each chamber on a different page. The House, which in recent years has not provided specific authority for the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program, broke that trend this year with a $250 million guarantee—falling well short of AEO’s $1 billion request. The Senate bill allowed for $500 million for the program.

Advocacy work will be critical during theupcoming months. AEO seeks to ensure that resources exist for the programs members rely on to reach microbusinesses and entrepreneurs. Attaining sufficient funding for vital entrepreneurial development programs takes passion and commitment. The good news is that AEO members have both. 


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