Tax cuts, health-care costs and overregulation--these are all pivotal issues that helped drive more than 20 million small-business owners to the polls this midterm election. But will entrepreneurs be satisfied with the outcome of the election? To get an insider's opinion on how the Democratic shift in Congress will affect the future of small business, we spoke with Rep. Nydia VelÃ¡zquez (D-NY), current ranking Member of the House of Representatives' Small Business Committee.
Entrepreneur.com:How will the results of this election impact the SBA?
Rep. VelÃ¡zquez: Over the past five years, the SBA budget has been cut by 60 percent and has dwindled from a Cabinet-level agency to one that rarely has a seat at the table. As chair of the House Small Business Committee, I will focus on restoring the SBA to the economic powerhouse it once was.
Entrepreneur.com:Will there finally be a decision on health-care plans?
VelÃ¡zquez: Today, small businesses suffer disproportionately from escalating health-care costs, and they're demanding action on this issue. I am motivated to work on a bipartisan basis to develop a solution that will provide small businesses and their employees with affordable health care.
Entrepreneur.com:What sorts of legislation or programs should entrepreneurs expect to see going through the House in the near future?
VelÃ¡zquez: Entrepreneurs can expect to see a number of legislative initiatives to address their most pressing concerns. We will proactively develop policies aimed at reducing the cost of capital, encouraging greater small business participation in the federal marketplace and, most important, reauthorizing the SBA to ensure that its programs are fully funded and able to meet the needs of small businesses--the engines of our economy.
Entrepreneur.com:When could we expect to begin seeing changes?
VelÃ¡zquez: I am energized, under our leadership, to undertake a pro-small business agenda immediately. Speaker Pelosi has set ambitious goals for the new Congress, and I look forward to this renewed opportunity to advance the interests of small businesses with vigor and enthusiasm.
Entrepreneur.com:Prior to the election, a Wells Fargo/Gallup poll showed that business owners were expected to vote in record numbers this election. What set this election apart from previous years?
VelÃ¡zquez: For too many years, small businesses have been promised solutions for the myriad of problems they face--from tax and regulatory burdens to higher costs for health care and energy. They grew tired of waiting for a response and went to the polls to make it clear that they want action.
Entrepreneur.com:Entrepreneurs have expressed concerns regarding the burdens of overregulation and a complex tax code. How do you think election results will impact these issues?
VelÃ¡zquez: Today, small businesses pay at least 45 percent more to comply with regulations than their corporate competitors, and this burden has become increasingly troublesome over the past five years. Entrepreneurs have especially felt the impact of regulations with regard to the complex tax code that's currently in place. One of our top priorities will be working with the business community and the IRS to simplify the tax code. An important first step will be requiring the IRS to publish codes and regulations in plain English. We also need to establish initiatives that would provide compliance assistance to small firms and coordinate regulations between the local, state and federal levels of government to reduce regulatory redundancies. Measures such as these will ultimately give small businesses more time to focus on their most important objective--growing their businesses.
Entrepreneur.com:Do you think entrepreneurs will be satisfied with the outcome of the election?
VelÃ¡zquez: Commitments have been made to give our nation's small businesses the tools that they need to succeed, and if Congress and the administration work together in a bipartisan fashion, we will effectively address their needs. I intend to uphold my commitment to our nation's entrepreneurs and help them do what they do best--run their businesses.