Senators McKinney, Russo Call Upon Speaker Pelosi to Increase Heating Assistance

September 12, 2008

Call for additional federal funding for LIHEAP comes as House Speaker comes to Connecticut

State Senators John McKinney, R-Fairfield, and Robert D. Russo, R-Bridgeport, today are calling upon House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congress to immediately enact legislation that would increase LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) funding in Connecticut. At a press conference today in Bridgeport the senators said that the rising cost of energy is the number one issue facing residents of Connecticut and with the winter months approaching, they are extremely concerned that people will not be able to afford to heat their homes.

“The time to act is now,” said Sen. McKinney. “Lower income families and people on fixed incomes are in need of assistance and while there has been a lot of talk coming out of Washington there’s been very little action. We are looking at a potential crisis not only here in Connecticut but throughout the nation, with Congress now back in session it is imperative that legislation increasing LIHEAP is adopted immediately.”

In a letter to Speaker Pelosi who is in Connecticut today, the Senators said that “Congress has failed to act on legislation that would provide a sizeable increase in LIHEAP funding. It is critical to the citizens of Connecticut that Congress act on bills currently before them to ensure that our residents don’t freeze during this time of soaring energy prices.”

Connecticut expects to receive $41 million in LIHEAP funding. Legislative committees on Appropriations, Energy and Technology, and Human Services have already determined that this is not enough to pay for benefits already guaranteed. The Senators said that even with an additional $35 million coming from the state’s Energy Contingency Account, another $36.3 million from the federal government is still needed to fully fund energy assistance programs. Without full funding Connecticut may be forced to close the entire program or portions of the program early.

“Our most vulnerable citizens in urban areas like Bridgeport are depending on Congress and the Administration to move beyond partisanship and act on the very reasonable legislative proposals before them,” said Sen. Russo.

Last month, the Connecticut General Assembly authorized a substantial funding increase to the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program. The CEAP program provides low income elderly and vulnerable households with protection during the winter season. The Connecticut Legislature has committed to spend $113.9 million on heating assistance.

“We will continue to work with Governor Rell in supporting our congressional delegation’s efforts to increase energy assistance for Connecticut residents through proposals like Congressman Shays’ Warm Winter and Cool Summer Act. Low- and middle-income families in the Greater Bridgeport area cannot afford for Congressional leaders to fail them,” said Sen. McKinney.