BOSTON — A dozen U.S. governors, including those of all six New England states, are among those urging Congress to support a higher level of federal spending on a program that helps lower-income families and seniors cover their home heating costs.
In a letter seeking a $3.6 billion appropriation for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, the governors cited the slow economic recovery and higher fuel costs facing many American households.
“LIHEAP is a critical bridge for Americans – many of them elderly, disabled or caring for dependent children – who otherwise may be forced to choose between paying home energy bills and paying for food, medicine, or other essentials,” stated the letter, dated Monday.
The governors said the $3.6 billion request is lower than similar appropriations in recent years. During the 2010 fiscal year, the program received $5.1 billion in funding, 29 percent more than the current proposal.
Even as funding for the program has dropped, the governors said projections from the Energy Information Administration show average winter home heating costs climbing 6 percent to $977 per household, with LIHEAP grants covering only about $400 per household.
The letter sent to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate appropriations committees was signed by the governors of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia.