Less-fortunate Michiganders soon may have trouble paying their winter electric bills. The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is on the chopping block in President Trump’s proposed federal budget. Not a single federal dollar has been allocated to supporting this critical program.
Struggling Michiganders depend on LIHEAP funds to afford to heat or cool their homes when dangerous temperatures strike. The AMP community has urged our federal representatives to support LIHEAP funding because we believe no Michigander should suffer because they cannot afford their energy bills — and often the Michiganders most in need are those most at risk: seniors, children, and individuals with disabilities.
LIHEAP AND THE FEDERAL BUDGET
Here’s how the budget process works: Every year, the president is required to submit a proposed budget to Congress. Then, the House and Senate draft budget legislation that takes the president’s proposal into account and vote on a final report that is put before the president for a signature or a veto. It sounds like a simple process, but it’s one of the most complicated negotiations in Washington every year.
Before the president submits a proposed budget, he releases a budget preview. In March, the White House issued a blueprint for discretionary spending, and LIHEAP was one of the major items targeted for elimination.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Michigan received about $140 million in LIHEAP funding during the 2016 fiscal year. That money was distributed to energy assistance programs sponsored by local energy providers, as well as crisis assistance programs through organizations like the Salvation Army and The Heat and Warmth Fund. Even with $140 million from the federal government, Michigan has many more households in need than we are able to help. For low-income households and those Michiganders experiencing financial crises, LIHEAP can be a life-saver quite literally.
LIHEAP is too important to let it fall victim to political maneuvering in Washington. We’ll keep you updated on LIHEAP in the coming weeks, especially as the White House prepares to issue its full budget proposal for the next fiscal year.