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AGA Contacts:
Jennifer O’Shea, 202-824-7023
Jake Rubin, 202-824-7027

 Energy Assistance and Dividend Protection, Key AGA Priorities, Included in President’s Budget   


Washington, DC – Home energy assistance funds and a fair dividend tax rate are just a few of the provisions included in President Obama’s historic budget proposal released today.  The American Gas Association (AGA) is encouraged by the step the President made with his proposed budget to provide critical funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). AGA is also pleased that the president’s budget recognizes the importance of maintaining equal tax rates on dividends and capital gains, eliminating the “bias” against paying dividends.

The proposed $3.55 trillion budget for fiscal year 2010, entitled “A New Era of Responsibility: Renewing America’s Promise,” includes $3.2 billion for LIHEAP – a critical lifeline that helps low-income families with their home heating and cooling expenses. In addition, the budget proposes creating a new trigger mechanism to provide automatic increases in energy assistance whenever there is a spike in energy costs.

“President Obama’s budgeted request for $3.2 billion in LIHEAP funding is an important first step in ensuring Congress fully funds this critical program,” said David N. Parker, AGA president. “The president has demonstrated that he understands the dire situation faced by many low-income families who are forced to live in extreme temperatures when times get tough and we remain hopeful that no one will be left out in the cold this winter.”

The budget would also retain the 15 percent tax rate on dividends and capital gains for taxpayers earning up to $250,000 (married) and $200,000 (single), and would impose a 20 percent rate on taxpayers earning over those amounts.

This issue is especially important to AGA’s member companies that pay dividends to their investors. Through its national grassroots advocacy campaign, Defend My Dividend, AGA continues to urge the president to make permanent the current 15 percent maximum rate for all taxpayers beyond 2010.

“The president’s budget proposal takes important steps in helping America’s most vulnerable citizens maintain a basic standard of living. AGA looks forward to working with the president and Congress to promote these policies, which will result in greater financial security for our country,” Parker said.

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The American Gas Association, founded in 1918, represents more than 200 local energy companies that deliver clean natural gas throughout the United States. There are more than 71 million residential, commercial and industrial natural gas customers in the U.S., of which 94 percent — over 68 million customers — receive their gas from AGA members. Today, natural gas meets almost one-fourth of the United States' energy needs.

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