Chris Furlow

Chris Furlow
TBA President & CEO

Needing forgiveness

TBA made simplified PPP forgiveness an advocacy priority.

In the future, much will be written about the Paycheck Protection Program and its impact during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the ease — or difficulty — of the PPP forgiveness process will ultimately define the success or failure of the program for both PPP small business borrowers and lenders. For this reason, TBA made simplified PPP forgiveness an advocacy priority.

There is no question that PPP has helped to save millions of small businesses and jobs across America. In Texas alone, the commitment of Texas banks to local enterprises and workers has led to the processing of more than 391,000 PPP loans, keeping millions of Texans employed.

At the outset of the program, both borrowers and lenders were promised by Treasury and SBA officials that the process would be streamlined and easy. Unfortunately, the program and forgiveness became more bureaucratic and complicated, which brings us to the other part of the story.

After a major advocacy push by TBA and other banking and business groups for an “EZ” form, Treasury and SBA on June 16 released their second attempt at forgiveness guidance. It was anything but easy. In typical Washington fashion, they had hijacked the “EZ” moniker and affixed it to a three-page loan forgiveness application that required four pages of instructions, calculators and binders of documentation.  

We continued to press, working with Sens. Cornyn and Cruz. We greatly appreciated their co-sponsorship of a bipartisan Senate bill (S. 4117) to compel SBA to provide truly streamlined loan forgiveness for PPP borrowers of less than $150,000 with a simple one-page attestation that confirms that loan proceeds were used in accordance with the CARES Act.

We likewise worked with members of our congressional delegation from both parties to support companion House legislation. Meanwhile, TBA collaborated with state leaders, resulting in a bipartisan letter signed by 92 Texas legislators urging Washington leaders to act on simplified forgiveness.

Additionally, TBA led a pro-forgiveness reform coalition of Texas business and trade groups, including the Texas Association of Builders, Texas Medical Association, Texas Food and Fuel, the Texas Civil Justice League, the Texas Package Store Association, Texas Land Title Association and Independent Insurance Agents of Texas.

TBA was an early leader and one of only three state-based groups to be part of a national coalition that urged forgiveness revisions in a July 9 letter to Congressional leaders. This effort was really not about the letter. It was about the political and grassroots clout the letter represented. It clearly had an impact.

When Sec. Mnuchin testified before the House Small Business Committee just one week later, the tone was different and he said Congress should consider automatically forgiving the smallest of PPP loans. Bloomberg News reported that “Mnuchin’s interest in forgiving PPP loans comes after a coalition of almost 150 groups sent a letter to legislative leaders calling for forgiveness of all PPP loans of less than $150,000.”

By the time you read this column, we hope that these cumulative efforts have borne fruit. Simplified forgiveness has been a TBA priority because we cannot allow an unnecessarily complicated process to sour the PPP program for your small business customers, to slight the work and dedication of Texas banks, nor hamstring the economic recovery of our communities.

Needing forgiveness is one thing. Getting it has been tougher. But it’s certainly worth the fight.