Fiscal Cliff threatens to cut LIHEAP funding - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Fiscal Cliff threatens to cut LIHEAP funding

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HANNIBAL, Mo. (WGEM) -

The fiscal cliff we've been hearing so much about represents tax increases and automatic spending cuts come January 1st.

And if there's no deal to avoid that cliff, one of those spending cuts will take ten-percent in federal funding away from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program-- or LIHEAP.

Officials at NECAC say this cut would not only affect low income families here in Northeast Missouri, but it will affect about 7 million families nationwide.

And with winter already upon us, this is money many families can't afford to lose.

"It becomes a choice of well do we buy food do we buy medicine? Do we try to turn the heat up a little bit, it's a very real worry for families now and if we get this cut it's even going to be more serious," said Judy Eaton.

Judy Eaton with NECAC says LIHEAP already took a big hit last year in its funding and if an automatic cut of 10% takes effect January 1st, NECAC would run out of money sooner than ever before.

"It is scheduled that there will be money there until March 31st, but if this additional cut comes, then it's going to run out that much faster," said Eaton.

Eaton says the cuts would take away more than $70,000 from the nearly 11,000 families who depend on NECAC's assistance.

US Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois says he sees only one way to help struggling families avoid this crisis.

"What we need is an agreement and we need it now we should have had it this week but next week we're coming back and I hope that the speaker will sit down with the President and finally agree to raise the income tax rates just a small amount on the wealthiest people in America," said Senator Dick Durban.

Eaton hopes the government finds a solution, and fast.

"When a young mother comes up to the window and is worried she has a shut off notice and her little kids are saying they're playing there on the floor and the first thing out of their mouth is 'mommy it's warm in here' and to think we won't be able to help her keep that heat on, that's a terrible feeling," said Eaton.

Eaton says if you're looking for more assistance in heating your home this winter, you can apply for the weatherization program that NECAC offers. However, some counties already have a lengthy waiting list for that program.

 

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