President Trump recently submitted his first official budget request to Congress, titled America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.
The so-called "skinny budget" is barely 53-pages long and proposes a $54 billion increase in defense and other national security spending. It would be paid for by deep and dramatic cuts to non-defense discretionary spending and the elimination of various programs from scores of federal agencies. The proposal has drawn equal amounts of praise and scorn from a large cross-section of lawmakers from both political parties, the media and special interest groups in Washington and around the country.
We at NYSEC find the elimination of the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to be particularly troubling because of the severe financial harm that the elimination of LIHEAP funds would inflict on low-to-moderate income families as a consequence if the Administration's proposed budget is enacted.
In recent years, the LIHEAP program has provided more than $3 billion annually to states in support of their fuel assistance programs. In the State of New York alone, a federal allocation of some $325-350 million annually provides critical heating assistance to more than 1.2 million households; of these, some 77% have an annual income which is below the federal poverty level. From a demographic standpoint, 35% of NY State recipients are elderly, 42% are disabled and 24% are children. Thus, self-evidently, LIHEAP funds provide assistance to the most needy and most vulnerable in our society.
While not a perfect program, NYSEC nonetheless strongly supports continued federal funding for LIHEAP and we strongly oppose its elimination. This is a program which helps millions of elderly Americans, our disabled veterans and even active-duty military families heat their homes each winter. Be assured that NYSEC, along with our affiliated national and state associations, will closely examine this and other proposals in the Administration's budget request and make our recommendations known to Congress at the appropriate juncture in the Budget process.