Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro partnered with a group of 24 state Attorney Generals in calling for key changes to the Paycheck Protection Program was to ensure that funds are distributed fairly and equitably, Your Content has learned.
In a letter to Congressional leadership, the Attorneys General express concerns that the program, while helping some small businesses and their employees, suffered from a lack of transparency, technical savvy, and functionality that led to the funds disproportionately benefitting large, well-connected companies.
As a result, Shapiro — along with 24 fellow attorney generals — argue that both the first and second rounds of funding with this program have left many small businesses across the country unhelped by PPP.
“We must do more to help small businesses during this emergency and this program has been woefully insufficient in getting these funds into the hands of businesses most in need, especially small and minority-owned businesses. I’m calling on the federal government to ensure that these protections are going to the small businesses that desperately need them,” said Attorney General Shapiro.
“As we continue to confront the effects of COVID-19 on Pennsylvania, it’s essential that we protect workers and businesses that are relying on federal support as they confront this crisis.”
The Attorneys General are calling for Congress to adopt the following measures before they allocate additional PPP funding:
- Increasing Fair Access Funding for Small Businesses: The AGs call for Congress to require the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide stronger, explicit guidance to lenders to ensure that funding goes to small businesses and not large companies. Additionally, they urge Congress to adopt rules that prohibit lenders from giving preference to certain categories of customers over others, such as existing, larger customers or customers whose current debts could create conflicts of interest for the lender.
- Ensuring Equitable Distribution: They call for a portion of any future funding for the program to be allocated exclusively for minority-owned small businesses, and that funding should be fairly distributed across every part of the country, and that small banks and credit unions should be fairly represented as lending sources involved in the program. The group also calls for the SBA to create a simple and straightforward process for “unbanked” or “lesser-banked” small businesses or those that do not wish to apply through their current financial institution to receive funding.
- Better Communication and Transparency: The AGs urge Congress to direct the SBA to provide more direct guidance to businesses during the application process. They also call for the SBA to be required to disclose more granular data on the percentage of loans in various size categories, the number and amount of loans processed by each lender, and the geographic distribution of all loans by metropolitan statistical area, borrower demographics, including gender, race, and ethnicity; and comprehensive data on the businesses that receive funding.
- More Flexibility and Technical Support: The AGs believe that the program does not adequately serve small businesses and requires more flexibility. The group calls for more longer time limits for businesses looking to rehire employees, around repayment and forgiveness requirements to businesses that allocate a smaller amount of revenue to salaries, and expanding qualifications for loan forgiveness. They also urge the Congress to provide the SBA with greater funding to improve technical support and mandate a uniform, user friendly process for use by lenders.
Attorney General Shapiro joined this Massachusetts-led coalition with Attorneys General from California, Connecticut, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington State, and Wisconsin.
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