Phinzey For State Senate (D-8) - Fuel Assistance Plan Doesn't Go Far Enough

Acworth - District 8 State Senate candidate and current State Representative Jay Phinizy (D-Acworth) today announced that a bipartisan plan developed by Gov. Lynch and legislative leaders is a good step in the right direction but needs to be expanded. The current proposed levels, unfortunately, still leave out many New Hampshire families in need of emergency assistance. "This plan helps low-income families who already qualify for assistance, but it does nothing to help the majority of New Hampshire middle-income families who also face this heating fuel crisis and need assistance, particularly those who have lost jobs," said Phinizy. "I certainly do thank Gov. Lynch and legislative leaders for using the particulars of my proposal offered in July. As a result of increased costs, and the likelihood of more people losing jobs, there are undoubtedly going to be more requests for heating aid. No one should be cold this winter because they can't afford to pay for heat. The state should be there to help," Phinizy says.

Phinizy's plan he first proposed nearly two months ago helps low-income families, but also calls for a fuel assistance plan to help middle income families pay for heating fuel and to winterize their homes which in the long run reduces energy costs and saves money. The Governor's proposal would spend $2 million on weatherization efforts for those who qualify under current income levels guidelines. These funds would boost a program that in the past helped between 800 and 1,000 families a year make their homes more energy efficient. "There were 16,000 families who applied last year for winter weatherization help, but the program had only enough money to help fewer than 1,000 families," Phinizy said. "The demand is there, and we must respond. New Hampshire families want to do the right thing and make their homes energy efficient but just do not have the economic leverage to do this. They are faced with much higher fuel costs and must make a choice between fuel, food, and repairs. The state has an opportunity to provide this help." Phinizy proposes changing the eligibility criteria for these repairs and upgrades and setting aside additional state funds to offer no-interest loans to New Hampshire families so they can weatherize and protect their homes.

"Another concern I have is allocating emergency funding to the "meals on wheels" and senior lunch programs, which provide hot meals and outreach to "shut ins", and the elderly. Counties, cities and towns, as well as citizen volunteers are being hard pressed by higher gasoline costs, easily fifty per-cent higher than last winter. The additional funds proposed will help local CAP and similar social service agencies meet their obligations to provide these hot meals."

Phinizy's plan creates a back-up contingency fund that CAP agencies can draw from if their costs are more than their current budget appropriated to them by the towns and counties allows.

Phinizy is the Democratic State Senate candidate for District 8 which includes the city of Claremont and the towns of Acworth, Alstead, Charlestown, Gilsum, Goshen, Langdon, Lempster, Marlow, New London, Newbury, Newport, Roxbury, Stoddard, Sullivan, Sunapee, Sutton, Unity, Walpole, Washington, Westmoreland.