Shumlin Says State Will Make Up For Federal LIHEAP Cuts

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(Host) Governor Peter Shumlin and legislative leaders have promised to use state money to make up for federal cuts in a fuel assistance program.

Shumlin says the state will add $6.1 million to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance program, known as Li-HEAP.

(Shumlin) "There is bipartisan consensus that the state of Vermont is too good, too decent and too caring to let any Vermonter freeze in their home this winter."

(Host) Last year, eligible Vermonters received an average benefit of $866. This year, due to federal cuts, the average benefit was expected to be about $750.

Shumlin says Vermont’s congressional delegation was successful in rolling back some of the cuts. But he says more money is needed because the price of heating fuel has gone up since last winter.

(Shumlin) "So we have agreed that we’re going to make up the difference with the dollars that we have in Vermont to ensure that we keep the amount of gallons that were received available again this year at a similar level."

(Host) Most of the state money will come from a reserve fund the Legislature established last winter to make up for federal cuts.

Shumlin also says the state will look at ways to make LIHEAP more sustainable in an era of dwindling federal support.

He’s asked officials to study eligibility requirements, how the state pays fuel dealers, and other possible sources of revenue.

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