Vermont to cover federal cuts in heating aid programBy David Taube
VERMONT PRESS BUREAU | October 24,2012MONTPELIER — The state plans to provide $8.8 million in response to federal cuts for a low-income heating assistance program this winter.
The program, known as LIHEAP, helped 27,100 households last year, providing some $900 per family toward the cost of heating their homes. New cuts in federal aid, however, would reduce that average to just $543 per household for the coming winter.
The state’s newly announced funding, however, should help sustain benefits at the same level this year.
“We wish we could do more, but we felt that we needed to at least have a level-funded benefit,” Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding said.
The Legislature had appropriated up to $7 million to help buffer cutbacks, provided that the Legislature’s Emergency Board approves the measure, Spaulding said.
That full amount is expected to be used, and the administration is confident the board will agree to the proposal at its meeting scheduled for next week, he said.
In addition, Gov. Shumlin announced that his administration has changed the way benefits will be issued to clients and their fuel suppliers. In the past, benefits were paid once a month for everyone who was eligible. Under a new payment system, families will receive assistance as they become eligible, eliminating what in past winters was a one- or two-month wait for help.
The state’s weatherization trust fund is expected to contribute $900,000 to the heating assistance pool this year, and $900,000 is expected to come from budget adjustments.
For federal fiscal years 2009 to 2011, the state provided no additional funds to the LIHEAP program. But last year, Vermont contributed $6.1 million to compensate for federal cutbacks.
The state’s first round for distributing benefits will begin Nov. 14 for more than 21,000 families.
A family of three can earn up to $2,944 per month in gross income and still be eligible for the program. Other income limits are adjusted based on the number of people in a family.
Mendon resident Susan Meadows Wind helped raise awareness about the looming possibility of reduced award amounts through the media and with a rally on the Statehouse lawn.
Wind said Tuesday she was so overjoyed she was crying when she learned heating assistance benefits wouldn’t be cut this year after all.
“I was just so relieved,” she said.
firstname.lastname@example.orgMORE IN Vermont News
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Julius Caesar dedicates a temple to his mythical ancestor, Venus Genetrix; on this day in 1933, FBI agents in Memphis, Tennessee, arrest Machine Gun Kelly; Yves Rossi flies the English Channel with home-made jet-pack.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1852, Henri Giffard demonstrates the first steam-powered airship, sailing 17 miles from Paris to Trappes; on this day in 1877, Japanese imperial troops crush the Satsuma Rebellion, Saigo Takamori dies in Kagoshima.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: U.S. Rep. Peter Welch meets with Killington business owners, governor candidates debate, Gov. Shumlin discusses progress in anti-opiate campaign, Spanos trial venue moves to White River Junction.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1776, as Nathan Hale is hanged by British military authorities for spying, he utters his famous last words — or does he? In 1975, Sara Jane Moore attempts to kill President Gerald R. Ford in San Francisco.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Patrick McArdle reports and the theft of an $89,000 shotgun, police release a video of the Monday Castleton robbery, O'Gorman reports a lawsuit by a local man claiming his vehicle unlawfully seized, police leave him in cold.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Giles Corey of Salem, Mass., is pressed to death during the Salem witch trials; on this day in 1952, film comedian Charlie Chaplin, while traveling to England, is denied re-entry into the United States by U.S. attorney general.