Oh right, they’re two steps ahead of ya.
AUSTIN, Texas — During one of worst heat waves in state history, Texas is holding onto millions of dollars intended to help hundreds of thousands of elderly and low-income residents pay their electric bills.
The Dallas Morning News reported Saturday the state has collected $130 million this fiscal year to help financially strapped Texas residents pay for the cost of electricity used for cooling, but has provided only $28 million so far to those who need it.
The reason: State lawmakers have locked away the money to deal with the budget shortfall. The state is now spending only half as much as it did to help the poor and elderly get through the summer a decade ago.
Texas isn’t alone. Nationwide, states hit hard by the lingering recession and budget shortfalls have cut the size of programs aimed at helping people pay their electric bills, or have eliminated them entirely. In Oklahoma, for example, the state’s program ran out of money in after only three days. Indiana has stopped taking any new applicants, while Illinois decided to get rid of its program all together to save money needed to pay for heating assistance in the winter ahead.
Don’t worry though, it’s not not like money was actually supposed to be set aside to help people so they don’t boil in their own homes.
Texas leaders have said that until the economy recovers and lawmakers overhaul the state tax code, they have no choice but to amass the dedicated-fee money for use elsewhere. Chief Senate budget writer Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, said the only alternative to holding dedicated funds would have been to cut more out of education, public safety and other key programs.
The money for the energy bill assistance is paid by fees collected from more than 6 million households and businesses in certain designated utility markets, including Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and the Rio Grande Valley. It is attached to utility bills and for the average residential ratepayer, it is about $1 a month.
Gov. Rick Perry proposed ending the assessment four years ago because the money was largely being diverted from its stated purpose.
The governor “continues to promote truth in taxation so Texans can be assured their tax dollars are being spent on their intended purpose,” spokeswoman Catherine Frazier told the Morning News.
In 2004, the state made changes eligibility requirements, causing more than half of the almost 800,000 customers who had enrolled for assistance to be cut off. The state continued to collect the fee, but kept more of the money to balance the budget.
Wooo-eeee, don’t worry though..all the people that die from this will have been poor, and like Rick Perry’s best friend Jesus says….screw the poor, if they wanted to not boil to death in their homes they shoulda moved to Alaska (and then back during the winter like civilized people).