Gorin Represents RV Park Sector at SBC Council
The Small Business Legislative Council (SBLC) board of directors, meeting Dec. 4-5, has announced the council’s priority agenda for 2010. The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) was represented by one of its government affairs consultants – yours truly, a past national chairman of SBLC and ARVC’s former president.
The priorities align closely with the interests of RV park and campground owners, with the four priority issues for the coming year including:
- Improving access to operating lines of credit and capital for small business.
- Passing national health care reform that meets the needs of small business owners and their employees.
- Resolving the estate tax situation and working to protect the interests of small business in any and all tax related legislation that is likely to emerge in 2010.
- Passing a new federal highway bill that continues to improve the nation’s infrastructure of highways, bridges, tunnels and other transportation infrastructure that’s essential to the success of all industries relying on highway travel.
The council board also voted on several other key issues. The board noted that SBLC would support a reasonable increase in the gas tax (in the neighborhood of 10 cents) provided the increase was entirely earmarked for the Highway Trust Fund and used for infrastructure enhancement.
The board also passed a motion noting that SBLC strongly supports a small business definition for health care legislation based on the number of employees in the business and not on total payroll costs. The board felt that 50 employees would be the minimum threshold for small business compliance with all health care and health insurance reform.
SBLC Chairman John Satagaj noted that 2010 federal legislative activity is likely to include a major tax bill. He pointed out that during the coming year more than 100 tax code provisions will be expiring including research and development tax credits, child care and educational tax credits, energy credits and many other provisions of benefit to many. Each of these expiring credits or tax exceptions have a cost in terms of lost tax revenue. In addition, there is discussion of the need for a “war tax surcharge” to fund the war in Afghanistan, and of course there will be significant costs to almost any health care legislation that may pass. The tax outlook for the coming year is perilous for small business.
The SBLC is a coalition of national trade associations comprised primarily of small businesses. ARVC has been affiliated with SBLC for more than 20 years and plays an active role in the council’s work. Working together in this coalition greatly multiplies the association’s ability to impact on important federal policy.
Here’s a Great Example of
How This Congress Thinks
Most of us are concerned about the rapidly growing federal deficit and believe that the federal government needs to reign in spending wherever feasible. And at the same time, most of us would agree that there needs to be a prioritization of federal expenses and that not every expense is equally as important as every other expense.
Well, on Oct. 29, Congress wrapped up a fiscal year 2010 Interior Department and related agencies appropriations bill (HR 2996) that provides a significant $4.66 billion spending increase over fiscal 2009 – a whopping 17% increase!
A House-Senate conference committee put the final bill together. Acting with unusual speed, the House approved the conference bill by a 247-to-178 vote and the Senate followed suit the same day by a 72-to-28 vote. The bill was given momentum because it also extended a temporary spending resolution for other agency appropriations bills.
The comparatively large margin in the Senate didn’t reflect the dogged opposition to the bill presented by members of Congress (mostly, but not entirely Republicans) who objected to a 17% spending increase over fiscal 2009. Given the times and national priorities, this seems like a reasonable objection.
“Now we have a Department of the Interior and environment conference report that contains a 17% increase over last year’s spending,” said one member who opposed the bill. “I assure you the family budget that has to pay for this federal budget, their budget didn’t increase 17%. People want to know, why is federal spending out of control?”
But Rep. Norman Dicks (D-Wash.), principal author of HR 2996, said the 17% gain hardly makes up for the huge cuts the Interior bill took during the Bush administration.
“I again want to point out that over the last eight years, Interior’s budget has been cut by 16%. The EPA has been cut by 29% and the Forest Service by 35%. This budget does provide a significant increase, but it’s only catch-up because these agencies have been severely damaged,” said Dicks.
Of course many conservation and outdoor industry groups praised Congress. “The vast majority of outdoor recreation occurs on our magnificent public lands and in order for the recreation economy to continue to grow as well as for Americans to enjoy the health and spiritual benefits of outdoor recreation, we as a nation must invest in the management of these wonderful resources. This budget reflects that priority,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of the Outdoor Industry Association.
What do you think? Surely, the RV park and campground sector benefits from the investment in public lands for recreational and conservation purposes. But how and where can the spending ever be cut when every industry and every special interest can make a similar claim?
Congress was particularly generous to the Park Service in early December in completing a fiscal year 2010 Interior and related agencies appropriations bill (HR 2996.) President Obama signed it into law (PL 111-88) Oct. 30.
For Park Service operations alone, the conference bill approved $130 million more than Congress did in fiscal 2009. The bill also provided significant hikes for recreation and preservation, land acquisition and scores of other programs managed by NPS.
That comes on top of an economic stimulus law (PL 111-11 OF Feb. 17) that provided the Park Service with an extra $1 billion for a broad array of projects, including road construction.
USDA Loan Program for
Rural Campground Business
Are you aware of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Business and Industry (B&I) Guaranteed Loan Program, for which RV businesses, including manufacturers, suppliers, dealers and campgrounds, are eligible?
The loan program is designed to save or create jobs in rural areas across America. The USDA defines “rural communities” as areas that are outside the limits of any city with a population of 50,000 or more, though some rural areas may be close to an urban center.
To learn more about eligibility and details of the program visit http://eligibility.sc.egov.usda.gov/eligibility/welcomeAction.do?pageAction=RBSmenu&NavKey=property@13. To find a USDA office in your state, visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/## (replace the ## with your state’s two-letter abbreviation).
The USDA also offers the Rural Energy for America (REAP) Program, which offers grants and guarantees loans to rural businesses that want to reduce their energy consumption. For more information on REAP, visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/busp/9006loan.htm.