With customers facing one of the toughest economies in American history and with cold weather blanketing much of the nation, there is little justification for cutting the funding for such an important program
Washington, DC – Home energy assistance funds and a fair dividend tax rate are just a few of the provisions included in President Obama’s budget proposal released yesterday. The American Gas Association (AGA) is disappointed that the reduction of vital funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is well below the needs of many Americans.
The proposed $3.8 trillion budget for fiscal year 2011 includes $3.3 billion for LIHEAP – a critical lifeline that helps low-income families with their home heating expenses. With current funding appropriated at $5.1 billion, this figure constitutes a reduction of nearly $2 billion, far less than needed to meet even current demands.
“With customers facing one of the toughest economies in American history and with cold weather blanketing much of the nation, there is little justification for cutting the funding for such an important program,” said David N. Parker, AGA president and CEO. “In fact, with current levels already failing to meet needs, AGA calls on the administration and Congress to increase LIHEAP funding to a more appropriate $7.6 billion.”
While disappointed in LIHEAP funding, AGA is pleased that the president’s budget would maintain 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 shareholders. Through its national grassroots advocacy campaign, Defend My Dividend, AGA continues to urge Congress to maintain these fair and reasonable rates as soon as possible to provide an important level of predictability and certainty to the financial markets.
AGA is also pleased that the budget proposes to extend for one year the 50 percent bonus depreciation deduction, which expired at the end of 2009.
“What the budget gives with one hand it takes away with the other by proposing to repeal key tax incentives for energy production. And with our economy still in turmoil and an unhealthy reliance on foreign sources of energy the status quo, now is not the time to impose new taxes on America’s oil and natural gas producers,” said Parker.
“The president’s proposed budget holds both promise and frustration. While it acknowledges the importance of investment in America’s energy utility industry, it fails to provide adequate support for those struggling to meet basic needs like heat,” Parker said. “We look forward to working with the president and Congress to seek improved policies which will result in greater protection of low-income families and increased financial security for our country,” Parker said.