Crutchfield Looking to Fight High Heating Costs

10-17-05 - Oklahoma Senator Johnnie Crutchfield is calling an emergency meeting for the Senate Appropriations Committee to prepare early for what could turn into a disaster this winter as energy costs are projected to rise by at least 30-percent.

"My opinion will be if the federal money doesn't come in and we have a 100,000 households with a minimum ability to heat, to me that's an emergency," Oklahoma Democratic Senator Johnnie Crutchfield said.

Crutchfield is talking about an Oklahoma program called LIHEAP, which provides energy assistance for low-income households.

This year the double whammy of Katrina and Rita is causing energy bills to go up, taking away federal funds.

The temporary budget that supplies LIHEAP isn't a sure thing. $12 million last year, and that could mean fewer dollars or none at all this year for people who can't afford the comfort of heat.

"It does mean the difference in having the proper amount you need to be safe and healthy and whether you're going to buy you're medicine or food," Crutchfield said.

Crutchfield is calling for the emergency meeting at the state's capitol one week from Wednesday. Solutions so far include using money DHS won't need until the spring and promising to pay it back, or opening up the rainy day emergency fund.

LIHEAP funds are based on how many people are in your household and the income. Forms will be available at DHS at the end of next month.