Budget Cuts Mean HEAP Office Won’t Open Until Nov. 16th

October 28, 2011 Updated Oct 28, 2011 at 5:30 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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Budget Cuts Mean HEAP Office Won’t Open Until Nov. 16th

October 28, 2011 Updated Oct 28, 2011 at 5:30 PM EDT

(WKBW release) -- Legislators Barbara Miller-Williams, Betty Jean Grant and Maria Whyte joined with the National Fuel Accountability Coalition leaders Friday to let families know how HEAP cuts will impact their planning for the winter.

Rather than the traditional Nov. 1st start date, HEAP won’t open this year until Nov. 16th. Furthermore families will get $100 to $200 less than they received last year. Electric reimbursements won’t be distributed until January of 2012.

Families across Western NY are forced to make tough choices to afford outrageous gas bills because houses lack basic insulation. Weatherization is a solution to this crisis that saves energy, lowers gas bills, and creates green jobs.

“I am excited because our coalition won $19 million statewide for low income weatherization two weeks ago. However National Fuel CEO David Smith, who makes $7.1 million a year of this crisis, still hasn’t contributed to the solution.” said Rachelle Moses, with the National Fuel Accountability Coalition. “This cut to HEAP is going to make those tough choices for low income families even tougher.”

The HEAP cuts are one example of how communities suffer when state and federal governments don’t make millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share in taxes. Without immediate action from state government, New York’s wealthiest people are scheduled to get almost $5 billion in tax cuts.

“It’s outrageous to me that my friends and neighbors are living without heat or hot water because our government can’t afford basic services like HEAP and millionaires like CEO Smith are getting tax cuts.” said Brenda Miller of the National Fuel Accountability Coalition.

The NFAC is collecting donations of coffee and hot chocolate to help warm up HEAP recipients standing on the line on Nov. 16th. The coalition is also coordinating an outdoor concert for Nov. 16th called “Fuel the 99%: The Great Disconnect”. The goal of the event is to raising awareness about the struggle to affordable high gas bills and the call on government to make millionaires pay their fair share.