News Releases

September 15, 2008

Governors Call for Full Funding of Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Urge Federal Government to Provide $2.5 Billion in Additional LIHEAP Funding in FY2008

Waterbury, VT—The bipartisan Coalition of Northeastern Governors (CONEG), chaired by Governor Jim Douglas, on Friday urged House and Senate leaders to add at least $2.5 billion in additional FY2008 funds to bring the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) up to the fully authorized funding level of $5.1 billion for this fiscal year.

Echoing support for Senate efforts to provide an increase of $2.5 billion to the program and House efforts to provide $3.12 billion in funding before the end of FY2008, the Governors reiterated the need to ensure low-income residents in the Northeast receive the help they need to heat their homes in the wake of this year’s skyrocketing home heating prices.

“The need for additional LIHEAP funds exists in every region of our country, as households nationwide can expect to pay almost 16 percent more to heat their home than last winter. However, skyrocketing energy costs threaten a disaster for the Northeast, where many households can expect home heating costs to increase by 30 percent,” the governors said in their letter to Congressional leaders.

”Through my new Fuel and Food Partnership, my administration, the Legislature and our community partners will continue to do everything we can to ensure our residents stay warm this winter. However, we continue to reinforce to our federal partners the need to fully fund the LIHEAP program because it remains an essential resource to assist families in making home heating payments,” Governor Douglas added.

Thanks to the financial commitments made by Governor Douglas and the Legislature, last year Vermont provided the most generous LIHEAP benefit in the country, averaging approximately $1169 per household, with approximately 23,000 households served. But as home heating costs skyrocket, full funding of the LIHEAP becomes essential if a similar benefit level is to be offered this year.

“We’re doing a great deal here in Vermont to assist our state’s most vulnerable in the wake of high home heating and food costs,” said Agency of Human Services Secretary Cynthia D. LaWare. “I’m pleased to see the Coalition of Northeastern Governors, our Congressional delegation and others continue to urge Congress to fully fund LIHEAP, because we can’t do it alone.”

“It is becoming abundantly clear that current funding will not meet the increased need for the program. Our states have recently taken aggressive action to maximize scarce LIHEAP dollars and to develop additional ways to help low-income residents struggling with exorbitant home heating bills…,” the governors continued in their letter. “But these efforts are not enough. At least $2.5 billion in additional FY2008 funds for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is urgently needed now to help restore some of the purchasing power of the program, and enable states across the nation to provide meaningful assistance to more citizens struggling to pay unaffordable home energy bills.”

The Coalition of Northeastern Governors (CONEG) is a non-partisan association of the Governors of the eight Northeastern states—Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

For more information about the Governor’s Fuel and Food Partnership, and what State and community partners are doing to help keep Vermonters warm this winter, visit: http://helpforvt.org/

Source: Office of the Governor
Last Updated at: September 15, 2008 09:03:41