LANSING – State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) today voted again a supplemental budget bill, Senate Bill 608, because it doesn’t address the critical need to help U.P. families dealing with a propane shortage during this bitterly cold winter.
“This propane shortage across the U.P. is a life and death issue for families,” said Dianda. “By failing to put enough funding into energy assistance, House Republicans are literally leaving people out in the cold, and this past Sunday the air was 20 below in my district. That was the actual temperature, not the windchill. And we are expecting at least another two months of this brutal cold.”
SB 608 appropriates nearly $23 million in federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Some of that was carved out for propane assistance, but then $4 million that had been included by the Senate was stripped out by House Republicans. Those funds would have assisted families whose incomes exceeded the threshold for assistance, but who nevertheless took out loans or depleted their savings to afford heat.
According to the Michigan Public Service Commission, propane inventories in the U.P. are 43 percent below last year’s level. While residents are trying to conserve as much fuel as possible, no one knows how long the shortage will last.
“This propane shortage is a major issue and we can’t just turn our backs on these families and say they don’t deserve help from Lansing,” said Dianda. “This is a record-setting cold winter even for the U.P., so we can’t just ignore people’s cries for help. This bill included a $350,000 appropriation for a park in Detroit, but our people, who are experiencing an emergency, get shortchanged. I would have gladly supported the Senate bipartisan version that would have done more for these families. It’s our duty to do something now and I’ll keep reminding my colleagues for as long as it takes.”