Posted on August 29, 2022
HARTFORD – The legislature’s Appropriations, Energy, and Human Services committees met at the Legislative Office Building on Monday to act on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Plan (LIHEAP) and Low Income Household Water Assistance Program Allocation Plan. State Rep. Jay Case (R-Winsted), Ranking Member of the Human Services Committee, supported an amendment prior to the committee’s action that would supplement $79.2 million in expected federal LIHEAP funds to increase total home energy assistance to $191.5 million. While the allocation plans were ultimately approved by the committees, the Republican amendment was not considered, leaving millions of unallocated dollars of potential relief on the table.
“The amendment proposed today could have been implemented without the need for further legislative action, providing immediate assistance to those who need it most. Unfortunately, the amendment was not considered despite it being brought forward during Monday’s committee vote. While some relief was approved at today’s meeting, much more is needed to be done to address the needs of those who depend on heating assistance to combat the harsh winter months,” said Case.
Case and his fellow Republicans were looking to draw on unallocated federal relief funds in the amount of $112.3 million from the Invest Connecticut account, a fund set aside by the Fiscal Year 2023 budget adjustment with unassigned federal ARPA funds – meaning the idle funds are readily available for allocation.
In addition to growing inflation, Case went on to voice his concern that newly implemented taxes will have an unforeseen impact on the viability of LIHEAP. Case cited two specific taxes, the increase to diesel fuel, and the implementation of the Highway Use Tax, to show that heating oil costs will become even more unaffordable. The diesel tax increased 9 cents on July 1, and the Highway Use Tax could cost truckers up to 17 cents per mile traveled on state roadways.
“I opposed the Highway Use Tax when it was hastily approved during the pandemic and now, we are seeing its negative impact. Heating oil prices will be increased by the Highway Use Tax and higher diesel prices, specifically due to added costs suppliers must pay for delivery and re-stocking oil terminals, and as a result everyone’s heating oil costs will be going up. It’s a tough to pill to swallow that because of newly enacted taxes, less funds are available in LIHEAP,” said Case.
Case had called for a special session earlier in the year to release $746.2 million in tax relief to residents and businesses. However, no opportunity was provided for legislators to cast a vote on that plan.