WISCONSIN — Small businesses in Wisconsin worried about getting trapped by all the paperwork in filling out the forgiveness application for the Paycheck Protection Program loans just got some help Wednesday.
I talked with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about the new "EZ" version.
"I think we put on there it should take 20 minutes to fill out," said Secretary Mnuchin." And by the way, I think its 10 minutes to collect your documents and 10 minutes to fill out the form. I think that's down from like two hours."
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Our partners at the Milwaukee Business Journal report the new version of the forgiveness application asks borrowers to show at least 60% of their PPP funds were spent on payroll costs, rather than the original requirement of 75%.
The streamline version comes after U.S Senator Tammy Baldwin and other Senate Democrats sent a letter to Secretary Mnuchin raising concerns about "the complexity and high-cost burden of the forgiveness application process for PPP loans."
"We expect a majority of business will be able to do this in a very easy fashion," said Mnuchin.
Senator Baldwin tells TMJ4 she's "pleased" with a more streamlined forgiveness form but "as a result of this needlessly complicated forgiveness process, PPP funds have not gone to the hardest-hit businesses in Wisconsin, like restaurants and taverns."
Secretary Mnuchin was asked if another stimulus check will be needed this year?
"Well there's definitely a need for a CARES Four," said Sec. Mnuchin. "Whether that includes a stimulus check, the economic impact payments - we are going to look at that very carefully, we haven't decided yet."
He says any additional money would be targeted at helping businesses that are going to take longer getting back open.
Mnuchin credits the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) for helping boost retail sales by nearly 18% in May.
"In CARES we've put in about $3 trillion dollars that was authorized," said Mnuchin. "We have a little bit more that half of that in the economy and we are working to pump the rest of that in."
In May, the economy added 2.5 million jobs - as more people returned to work but millions remain sidelined by the virus. Unemployment is at 13.3%. Higher for Hispanic males -17.6% and African American males - 16.8%.
"The unemployment rate is still too high," said Mnuchin. I expect as we continue to open the economy - we are going to see a lot of those jobs coming back and we are going to continue to work with Congress to stimulate that."
House Democrats have already passed another stimulus plan called the HEROES act (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act).
It's another $3 trillion and includes nearly $1 trillion in aid to state and local governments, extending the $600-per-week addition for unemployment benefits and through January 2021.
Senate Republicans have not taken up the House bill.