LATHAM, N.Y. (4/3/08)--The New York Assembly has passed legislation that would allow New York state and federal credit unions to participate in the Excelsior Linked Deposit Program. According to the New York State Credit Union League, Assembly Bill 3205/Senate Bill 4629 passed the assembly March 26 by 139 to 0. It was part of a 16-bill package announced to coincide with Small Business Day in the state and passed to help small businesses become more productive and profitable, said the league. The Excelsior Linked Deposit Program was created in 1993 to address a need to make more capital available and affordable to small businesses by leveraging state resources so eligible businesses can receive loans with rates two to three percentage points lower than the prevailing rate. Credit unions currently are excluded from the program. "We couldn’t be happier that this bill passed through the Assembly," said William J. Mellin, league president/CEO. The Senate Bill 4629, identical to the assembly bill, is in the Senate Finance Committee for consideration. The league will continue to focus its efforts on educating Senate members about the merits of the bill. "We're hopeful that the Senate will recognize that small businesses need greater access to capital through a wider range of lenders, especially in light of today's troubled economic times," Mellin said. "If credit unions are allowed to join the program, they will be able to funnel much needed help to the state's small- and medium-sized businesses."