WASHINGTON -- Last year, 426,410 Ohio households got government help with their home heating bills because they were headed by people with low incomes, many of them elderly. Washington will be less generous this winter; it's practically guaranteed because of spending cuts geared toward reducing the deficit.
But Ohio could take an additional hit to its share of the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) if House of Representatives appropriators get their way. Senators from cold-weather states including Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown are pushing back against the proposed House measure, which would change the way the program's money is allocated -- shifting money from Ohio, Michigan and Maine and giving a little more more to southern states.
Warm-weather states have complained for years that their citizens, too, have seasonal energy woes, a result of personal finances and harsh summers. The difficult economy and Capitol Hill politics have strengthened their hand this year, presenting a prospect for changing a program that Brown says has "worked bipartisanly for 30 years."
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