CHIVUKULAMcKEON STAND WITH MENENDEZ & LAUTENBERG IN CALLING ON OBAMA TO RECONSIDER SLASHING FUNDING FOR LIHEAP, ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM FOR LOW-INCOME FAMILIES
Assembly Telecom & Utilities and Environment Chairs Say Federal Funding Crucial to Help N.J.’s Most Vulnerable Weather the Economic Storm
(TRENTON) Assembly Telecom and Utilities Chairman Upendra J. Chivukula and Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee Chairman John F. McKeon announced Sunday that they stand with New Jersey Senators Robert Mendendez and Frank R. Lautenberg in calling on President Obama to reconsider his decision to cut in half the federal program that helps low-income families and individuals, seniors and the disabled pay for utilities including heat and electricity.
Thirty-one U.S. Senators including Menendez and Lautenberg signed a letter Friday calling on President Obama to change his mind about the planned reduction in federal funding for energy assistance to states in his proposed budget.
Addressed to Jacob J. Lew, director of the Office of Management and Budget, the letter asked the U.S. President to consider both the hardship of poor families and seniors and the benefits the program provides to the economy.
Chivukula (D-Somerset) and McKeon (D-Essex) issued the following joint statement:
“We stand with U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Frank R. Lautenberg in calling on President Obama to reconsider his decision to slash in half federal energy assistance for states.
“We thank the 31 Senators including Lautenberg and Menendez for looking out for the interest of our nation’s most vulnerable.
“Last year, federal funding empowered New Jersey’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to assist one million state residents weather the economic storm by helping them pay their energy bills.
“The proposed slashing in half of federal funds for energy assistance would cut off about 500,000 residents from the state’s LIHEAP program.
“By depriving them of life sustaining and life preserving utilities, we would be exposing our state’s most vulnerable – our seniors, our disabled and low-income residents – to grave risk.
“As chairs of the Assembly Telecom & Utilities and Environment and Solid Waste Committees, we continue our committment to advance a renewable energy economy and initiatives to protect and preserve the environment.
“We believe it is also incumbent upon us to help protect our state’s most vulnerable from nature’s vicissitudes including the harsh winter that we are currently experiencing in New Jersey by ensuring that they receive life sustaining and life preserving energy assistance.
“We stand with New Jersey Senators Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez in calling on President Obama to reconsider his decision to slash energy assistance that provided $195 million in funding to LIHEAP in 2010.
“This federal funding is especially crucial at a time when New Jersey’s low-income families, seniors and disabled have experienced unprecedented cuts in state aid. Energy assistance could help keep the lights or heat on for some families, power life-sustaining medical equipment for others. It could help save lives.”
The Obama administration dedicated $5.1 billion to “LIHEAP” program, as it is known, in fiscal year 2010, according to the web site of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. New Jerseyans qualify if they earn no more than twice the poverty rate, or $44,700 for a family of four.