Schaefer protests plan to cut U.S. heating aid

January 05, 1991

Gov. William Donald Schaefer has protested as "shortsighted" and "unconscionable" a threatened federal plan to cut home-heating aid to Maryland and other states.

In a letter yesterday to Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, U.S. secretary of health and human services, Mr. Schaefer said eliminating $23 million in aid to Maryland would "have a devastating impact on tens of thousands of low-income families."

"I urge you not to turn a cold shoulder toward our nation's most vulnerable people," the governor wrote.

Government sources have said Dr. Sullivan originally planned to eliminate home-heating aid to all states except the six New England states, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, cutting the $1.4 billion program to $468 million in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

But a congressional supporter of the program, Representative Silvio O. Conte, R-Mass., said yesterday that administration officials had told him they planned to seek fiscal 1992 funding of $925 million, with a $100 million contingency fund.

Mr. Schaefer said in his letter that almost 75 percent of Maryland aid recipients had incomes below the poverty level and that a 25 percent increase in the price of oil coupled with the nation's economic slowdown confronted them with "particularly difficult circumstances."

Maryland expects to aid about 80,000 households this year, the governor noted.

"Although this is a slight increase over last year, it still represents only about 40 percent of all those eligible," Mr. Schaefer wrote. "States need more funds, not less, to help these families."

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