Snowe Requests Reversal of Cuts in Tech Programs

Senator leads bipartisan group urging appropriators to reverse cuts in key technology programs

WASHINGTON, March 11/U.S. Newswire/ -- U.S. Sen. Olympia J.Snowe (R-Maine), Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Businessand Entrepreneurship, has called on the Senate's topappropriators to help reverse budget cuts in two key programsdesigned to strengthen the technological competitiveness of smallbusinesses in rural areas.

Snowe and a bipartisan group of 14 other senators today releaseda letter calling on Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens(R-Alaska) and Ranking Member Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) to help identifynew sources of funding "to alleviate the severe impact"of cuts in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Programcontained in the "Omnibus Appropriations Act" for FiscalYear 2003.

"At this crucial time, when small businesses are strugglingin a slow economy, it makes little sense to sacrifice funding forthese efficient and cost-effective programs, which clearly helpsustain small firms," Snowe said Tuesday. "Rekindlingeconomic growth will be difficult unless the federal governmenthelps stimulate the small-business sector. Sacrificing funds forprograms like these will only slow the economic recovery we allseek and hurt the very communities that face the biggest obstacleson the road to recovery."

About $3.5 million in combined funding targeted for SBIR'sFederal and State Technical Partnership (FAST) Program as well asSBIR's Rural Outreach Program were cut from the ConferenceReport on the "Omnibus Appropriations Act," which wassigned into law by the President on February 20. The BushAdministration had requested $3 million for the SBIR FAST program,which provides grants to the states to strengthen the technologicalcompetitiveness of small businesses, and $500,000 for the SBIRRural Outreach program, which provides grants to approximately 25states to increase participation in the SBIR Program.

"In light of this history, we are very concerned that theConference Report eliminated all funding for FAST SBIR RuralOutreach," the Senators wrote. Moreover, last July, the Senatehad agreed to fund both the SBIR FAST and SBIR Rural Outreachprograms at the amounts requested by the Administration.

Copyright 2003, U.S. Newswire

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