WASHINGTON-CUNA urged key appropriators in a letter last week, to increase funding for the Small Business Administration's lending programs by $30 million for fiscal year 2004. In similar letters to Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Young (R-Fla.) and Ranking Member David Obey (D-Wis.), CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica stated that the administration's 2004 budget request for SBA is "considerably below the current level of loan approvals." He recommended a $30 million increase above the current House appropriation of $84.5 million to support approximately $12 billion in SBA 7(a) loans. "Increased funding is particularly needed now, since this is a time in which jobs are scarce, and Americans are trying to achieve their dream of owning their own business," Mica wrote. He also explained how credit unions have only recently been able to broadly access SBA guaranteed loans and what they do for their small business members. "The average member business loan from a credit union is approximately $118,000. Many small businesses have difficulty obtaining loans of this size from other lenders. Credit unions play a unique role in serving the needs of small businesses," Mica wrote. He warned that without additional funds, SBA will have to take administrative action to curb loan demand "I urge you to make every effort to help credit unions provide the necessary resources to America's small business owners, so that they can achieve their goals and dreams," Mica concluded. As the first session of the 108th Congress draws to a close, it is looking more likely that several appropriations bills will be wrapped up in an omnibus package.

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