Baker Restores Some Funding for Heating Assistance
After an outpouring of concern over cuts to low-income heating assistance, Gov. Charlie Baker's administration is reversing course.
The Berkshire Eagle reports administration officials announced Monday an increase to $19 million in supplemental funding. The legislative allocation for heating assistance had been reduced from $30 million to $11 million for fiscal 2019.
Still, some are not satisfied and demand that Baker release, as intended by the legislators, the entire $30 million before the fiscal year ends in June.
Administration officials insist that the legislation allows for distribution of the money over the next two fiscal years.
Either way, Joe Diamond, director of the Massachusetts Association for Community Action, said the additional $8 million is a step in the right direction. It should help most of the 160,000 households aided by the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program avoid utility shut-off and lack of heat during the early spring months, and keep them fluid as the next cold season starts bearing down on the Northeast, he said.
Meanwhile, because the program's allotment to Massachusetts has been cut by millions in the past few years, Beacon Hill lawmakers passed a $30 million state appropriation to provide additional heating assistance for low-income households in the state's supplemental budget, which Baker signed.