Ohio’s HEAP reduced in House proposal
By Sarah Einselen
A proposal in the U.S. House of Representatives to rework the formula that allots home energy assistance monies among the states is likely to further reduce the funding that Ohio gets, according to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Brown urges Ohioans to support an alternative proposal, now in the Senate, that leaves the current funding formula in place.
Both the House and Senate bills contain similar funding levels for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, but the proposed House plan makes allocation changes that would give Ohio and other colder-weather states, like Michigan and Wisconsin, a smaller percentage of the funds than they have previously received.
The Senate plan has already cleared the Appropriations Commit-tee and relies on a formula that has been used since 1980 to emphasize the needs of colder-weather states like Ohio. Under the Senate proposal, Ohio would receive nearly $173 million in LIHEAP funds, but under the House plan, the state would receive approximately $157.4 million. LIHEAP funds went to 426,410 Ohio households in 2010.
Regardless of the differences in the House and Senate plans, Ohio will receive less funding than last year because of overall cuts in the federal budget.
“People have generally been satisfied with how the program has worked,” Brown said. He is unsure why the House committee changed the formula and has not heard whether the need for air-conditioning in warmer states was a factor in the decision.