Iowans apparently won’t be shortchanged from seeing more federal dollars injected into a program that helps poor people pay their utility bills. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says a formula that was being used to distribute money to the Low-Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program, or LI-HEAP, unfairly divided the funding between the states.
Grassley says “When you spend two-billion dollars on this program, it’s very fairly spent between the 50 states. Add another billion dollars, and for some reason or other, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and other Frost Belt states get nothing. Arizona gets a 177-percent increase.” Grassley says he’s successfully redirected the plan for distributing more home heating dollars. He says the formula established by Congress nearly two decades ago stipulates the money should go where it’s most needed, in states like Iowa, rather than simply doling out dollars to big states in the South.
Grassley says he pointed out to people in the White House and on the Energy Committee that the money was supposed to be going to help families pay their heating bills but would instead be going to the Sun Belt and “it wouldn’t serve its purpose.” He says very few of the extra dollars would have gone to cold-weather states, including Iowa, where additional funding is needed.
Money for LI-HEAP was included in both the Defense appropriations bill and the Budget reconciliation package that passed the House on Monday. Grassley says most of the money now will go to the program’s contingency fund and will be distributed on an as-needed basis. He says “It’s important that money Congress provides for LI-HEAP go to those who need it most, not just to a state so it’s ‘even.'”