To help jump-start small-business lending, Gov. Martin O’Malley is asking the White House to funnel $3bn from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to the states so they can expand their loan-guarantee programs. Allocating $3bn for programs in Maryland, the other 49 states and the US territories could result in banks making as much as $18bn available to small-business borrowers, O’Malley and the governors of 27 other states said in a letter sent to President Obama on Feb. 24. That’s a ratio of $6 in loans for every $1 backed by the government. Supporters say the proposal, if adopted by the Obama administration, could help bridge the gap between small-business owners who can’t get credit and bankers who say they’re willing to lend, if they can find qualified borrowers. That disconnect has stalled the economic recovery because small businesses, which create most of the jobs in the country, have had a hard time finding money to expand.