Chris Furlow

Chris Furlow
TBA President & CEO

A matter of trust

Because Texas bankers love their country, you went to work.

The family and I went for a drive over the weekend with no destination. Like the Griswalds, we simply headed out on a road trip to escape the four walls of home quarantine and to enjoy the views of the Hill Country landscape. While driving through Blanco County, I spotted a small business with the following message painted in big letters on its doors, “In God We Trust. All Others Pay Cash.”

I had seen the message before, but on this trip, the first thought that ran through my mind was that banks should have posted this message for the government at the launch of the Paycheck Protection Program.

Remember what our banks were told at the beginning of PPP? This would not be like those old SBA programs. PPP would be “streamlined.” You were told by Treasury and SBA to just make the loans quickly and that they would fix things on the back end. The CARES Act said banks would get their fees on a five-day turnaround. In essence, they said, “just trust us.”

Because Texas bankers love their country, you went to work. For the next 12 weeks you helped to process more than 370,000 PPP small business loans now totaling more than $40.5 billion — literally saving millions of Texas jobs. People outside of banking are just beginning to realize that it was the liquidity of our banks that made PPP work. Without banks advancing the U.S. government, our economy would be in deeper crisis and more Americans would be without jobs. Banks across the Lone Star State have demonstrated that they are truly worthy of their fellow citizens’ trust.

Meanwhile, Treasury and the SBA did anything but streamline the process. Day after day, a painful dribble of guidance turned into a mountain of FAQs, Interim Final Rules and even amended Final Rules to the Interim Final Rules.

Now we are at another critical crossroads in the PPP journey. Treasury and SBA have issued forgiveness guidance. First, the forgiveness application was 11 pages long. Now, after nearly everyone outside of the SBA headquarters and the Hamilton building pushed back, we have been graced with a seven-page form. Only in Washington does a three-page form require four pages of instructions plus calculators and documentation. Why burden small business borrowers while they are still struggling?

It is often difficult to get any agreement in Washington; yet, more than 90 U.S. senators of both parties wrote the Treasury and SBA leadership asking for a simplified process. TBA would like to thank Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz for their leadership. And we are grateful for the Texas Congressional Delegation’s support on this vital issue.

Meanwhile, 92 Texas state legislators signed a bipartisan letter on behalf of Texas small businesses urging Treasury and SBA to make PPP forgiveness truly easy for borrowers of $150,000 and less because they, too, recognize that the process is too complex. The call has gone unheeded.

Congress will have to act if PPP forgiveness is to change. You can trust TBA to continue working with our delegation to ensure that our bank’s small business customers can focus on filling their cash registers and not filling out paperwork.