* June 11, 2015 AARP Illinois press release…
“Governor Rauner’s directive to suspend the expenditure of state funds under the Supplemental Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is dangerous and prohibited under Illinois law – the Governor does not have the authority to take this measure, and it endangers the lives of vulnerable Illinoisans, including individuals over age 65, people with disabilities or who have chronic medical conditions, and children under the age of five.
LIHEAP funds help individuals survive extreme summer and winter temperatures–they prevent deaths and excessive emergency room hospitalizations and other public health costs often associated with heat-related illnesses. The Governor’s action will not save the state any money and could, in fact, significantly increase preventable public health costs.
Over 171,000 Illinois households rely on LIHEAP to provide them with adequate levels of heating and cooling. On average, there are over 600 heat-related deaths each year in the United States, with the highest percentage of deaths occurring among those older than 65 years. Cook County saw 18 deaths as recently as 2012.
Illinois’ Emergency Assistance Act requires the moneys from this fund to pay for electric or gas services on behalf of consumers (i.e. low-income individuals over age 65, people with disabilities and children under age 5) eligible for this program. The Act does not allow for any other use of the funds - which are collected by electric and gas public utilities from their ratepayers or through allowable donations outlined in the Act.
Before endangering the lives and well-being of our most vulnerable citizens during the extremes of Illinois’ summer and winter weather we strongly advise the Governor to reconsider the moral and legal ramifications of his decision.”
* July 25, 2015…
Another $75 million was borrowed from the Supplemental Low Income Energy Assistance Fund. The fund uses money from a state surcharge on utility bills to supplement federal funding that provides help to low-income families in paying their utility bills.
Rauner previously announced the supplemental LIHEAP program was being suspended July 1 because no balanced budget had been passed by the General Assembly. He said it was one of a series of steps he had to take to manage state finances in the absence of a budget.
However, if the budget is resolved, the fact the money was borrowed means less will be available for assistance if and when aid is resumed, said Dalitso Sulamoyo, of the Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies.
* Governor Rauner on WDWS Radio this morning…
“It’s great to join your listeners, and before we start I hope we can talk about it, it’s going to be blistering hot. It’s supposed to be 92 here in Springfield today. And remind all your listeners to work to stay cool. Help your neighbors, look out for folks, we’ve got to help people stay cool on these hot days.”