Ohio could get the cold shoulder

Washington is considering cuts in funding for heating assistance

Port Clinton News Herald

WASHINGTON -- With temperatures already turning chilly, needy families across Ohio started lining up Nov. 1 for federal assistance to help pay their home heating bills. But how far that money will stretch is unclear as lawmakers in Washington wrangle about funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Right now, the legislative choice is between bad and worse: Ohio could lose $61.9 million under a plan approved by Senate Democrats, or more than $77 million under a proposal put forward by House Republicans.

"I don't know what the elderly are going to do if this is cut," Marilyn Gump, a 67-year-old from Waterford who applied for LIHEAP assistance this week, said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters.

The call was organized by Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat who is fighting the House GOP plan, which would provide $157.4 million in aid to the state. The plan by Senate Democrats would provide $172.9 million, according to an analysis by the National Energy Assistance Directors' Association.

"It's $15 million spread around the state, and it can mean crucial number of dollars," Brown said. "LIHEAP is such a lifeline for so many households."

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Ohio could get the cold shoulder »