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Sen. Miner, Rep. Harding Join Effort to Bolster Home Heating Assistance Slashed by Washington

Posted on September 22, 2022


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Lawmakers Sign Petition Calling for a Special Session to Support the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

 

HARTFORDState Sen. Craig Miner (R-Litchfield) and State Rep. Stephen Harding (R-Brookfield) joined fellow Republican lawmakers in submitting signed petitions to the Secretary of the State’s Office calling for a special session to restore home heating oil assistance slashed by Washington to seniors and low income families, as well as expand relief to middle class families.

The area lawmakers are advocating to restore relief to seniors and families who face significant cuts to home heating relief through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) as a result of Washington cutting state assistance.

Lawmakers can petition for a special session by gaining 50 percent plus 1 of members in both the House of Representative and the Senate.

“Connecticut families, including seniors on fixed income, continue to be crushed by record inflation with no sign of reprieve. It is irresponsible for state government to continue to sit on a historic budget surplus while people struggle. No one in our area or across the state should be worried about how, or even if, they will be able to heat their home this winter.

“When I’m in public, I know that people have a choice to either say hello, walk by or engage me with a question. More people have approached me about the cost of heating their home this winter than ever before, even more than the price of gasoline. This issue has been the number one reason people stopped to have a conversation. I’m sure that this is also the case for the Governor and my Democrat colleagues.

“Republicans do not have the numbers to petition for a special session alone. I’m calling on all my colleagues to work together in the upcoming weeks to restore home heating assistance for our most vulnerable and deliver immediate relief to working class families. Governor Lamont touts himself as the individual who invites Republicans and Democrats to the table to resolve issues like this. Why isn’t he putting pressure on fellow Democrats in the legislature to convene?” said Sen. Miner.

Rep. Harding said, “With countless hardworking families being crushed by record inflation, many are finding it increasingly difficult to save the funds necessary to heat their homes this upcoming season. Also due to this record inflation, our State’s budget revenues have surged to a surplus of hundreds of millions of dollars. It is incumbent upon our State Government to return these funds to the residents of our State, particularly to a program that will help families with the increasing expense of heating their home. No family should have to question whether or not they’ll be safe from the cold this winter. We should be devoting this surplus to meeting this immediate need.”

Sen. Miner, Rep. Harding and CT Republican lawmakers have repeatedly sought to increase assistance, calling for a special session in June, offering a committee level amendment to restore funding, and now petitioning for a special session.

 

What happens if lawmakers do nothing?

  • The heating assistance program will face a 40% cut
  • The poorest families in CT will see their home heating oil assistance reduced by nearly $3,000 compared to the aid they received last year – at a time when home heating oil prices are skyrocketing.
  • A senior with just $2270/month in total income will have their benefit cut from $3075 to only $730 in fuel authorizations. That is not even a tank of oil at the current prices.
  • In utility-heated households the lowest income households will get $415 less toward their utility heat bill this season.

What happens if we go into special session?

  • CT Republicans have a plan to restore home heating assistance to all qualifying families and seniors.
  • The Republican proposal also will establish a new $330 benefit for every working- and middle-class family earning between 61%-120% of state median income. Are you a family of four earning $150,000 or less? Then this plan means relief for you too.

The Republican plan will supplement the $79.2 million in expected federal LIHEAP funds to increase total home energy assistance to $191.5 million. The Republican plan utilizes $112.3 million from the Invest Connecticut account, a fund set aside by the Fiscal Year 2023 budget adjustment with readily available federal ARPA funds yet to be assigned to any programming.

If you are in need of winter energy assistance, you can apply for help online, by phone, by email, by mail, or in person at your local Community Action Agency (CAA). Click to learn how to apply.

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