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Legislature approves pandemic-relief loans to business

February 26, 2021 GMT
A man walks on the second floor of the New Mexico State Capitol building while emergency medical technicians wait to administer COVID-19 tests on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The building was closed to the public at the start of the pandemic. State leaders are holding most meetings virtually, with routine testing offered to legislators, staff members and the media. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)
A man walks on the second floor of the New Mexico State Capitol building while emergency medical technicians wait to administer COVID-19 tests on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The building was closed to the public at the start of the pandemic. State leaders are holding most meetings virtually, with routine testing offered to legislators, staff members and the media. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A bill is headed to the governor’s desk that would provide minimal-interest loans to businesses in New Mexico that lost income in 2020 amid the pandemic and emergency health restrictions.

The state House on Thursday voted 51-17 to approve a bill that expands eligibility for loans that will be underwritten by a multibillion state trust for infrastructure projects.

It would authorize loans of up to $150,000 to small businesses at sub-prime rates of less than 2% annual interest with a payback term of up to 10 years.

Those terms are more generous to borrowers than the original relief program that provided about $40 million in loans last year. Previous borrowers can apply to refinance under the new terms, and new loans of up to $75,000 can be issued without collateral in case of default.

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Lead sponsor Sen. Jacob Candelaria of Albuquerque says the law is crucial to making relief funds and more accessible to businesses for an extended recovery period.

Loan disbursements of up to $460 million would be staggered through May 31, 2022.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has expressed support for the proposal.