Cross-posted from Pelto’s Point at the New Haven Advocate
Now will Legislative Democrats approve it?
The Must Read Story of the moment: CTMirror: Malloy plan would end heat aid to gas and electric utility customers http://www.ctmirror.org/story/13906/liheap
The Malloy administration has released their plan to deal with the federal government’s cut in funds to Help low-income people heat their homes this coming winter.
Their plan: Leave more than 80,000 households who use electric or gas heat without any aid at all.
Faced with a cut of up to $69 million dollars in federal aid the Malloy Administration is proposing to use all the available energy assistance funds to help those who use oil while relying on a state law that prevents electric and gas utilities from shutting off services to their customers during the winter months.
If implemented, more than 60 percent of the households who have participated in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program in the past would not get any help this coming winter.
Present law prevents electric and gas utility companies from shutting off service between Nov. 1 and May 1 for failure to pay bills.
By directing money only to those who use oil, the Malloy administration would be leaving the low-income electric and gas users (who mostly reside in cities) facing the almost certain shut off of their utilities on May 1, 2012 – along with bills that they will never be able to pay.
A secondary impact would most certainly be that utility companies would seek a rate increase from the rest of their customers to pay off the bad debts from those whose bills were once subsidized by federal and state funds.
By way of an explanation, Ben Barnes’ Malloy’s Budget Director said that while having up to 80,000 households lose their utilities in May is a concern, the administration is “far less concerned about
people facing shutoff in May than people facing shutoffs in December.”
As if the choice was only one option or the other.
Those most knowledgeable about the impact this new policy would have here in Connecticut have not remained silent.
“It’s going to have a devastating effect” according to Patricia Wrice, Operation Fuel,
While Shirley Bergert, an expert at Connecticut Legal Services called Malloy’s plan “by far the most harmful thing we’ve ever seen in Connecticut.”
Additional Background from CTMirror:
LIHEAP (the low-income aid program) served 117,876 Connecticut households last year. The Malloy plan would be to serve about 36,826 households this winter (with heating oil up about 64 cents per gallon).
Connecticut actually needs about $120 million but thanks to the cuts implemented by the federal government, Connecticut will be getting about $46 million.
In addition, Malloy’s plan tightens eligibility rules which will cut off all aid for about 10,000 lower-middle income families who received help with their bills last year.
Apparently Malloy’s Commissioner of the Department of Social Services, Roderick Brembly is okay with the impact that the plan would have on his watch. He called the plan realistic.
PS – The administration’s plan requires legislative approval.
The legislature’s Appropriations, Human Services and Energy and Technology committees will hold a public hearing on the plan on Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 3 p.m., in the Legislative Office Building.
The tradition has been to hold the vote immediately after the public hearing.
It will be interesting to see if the Democrats in the General Assembly join this effort to curtail the most vital of services.