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Dayton Chief of Staff Memo on Heating Assistance

Dayton Chief of Staff Memo on Heating Assistance

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Published by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger on Feb 25, 2014
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09/23/2014

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TO: Representative Paul Thissen Representative Kurt Daudt Senator Tom Bakk Senator David Hann FROM: Jaime Tincher, Chief of Staff to Governor Mark Dayton DATE: February 21, 2014 RE: LIHEAP funding bill In response to the ongoing propane crisis, Governor Dayton took the following actions that affected the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
 
He expanded the eligibility to include 120,000 additional households by increasing the state median income requirement from 50% to 60%.
 
He increased the maximum crisis payment allowed per applicant from $500 to $1,000. To support these changes, Governor Dayton has asked President Obama and members of Congress to provide additional federal funding for the program. Without it, the LIHEAP program is expected to run out of funds after March 1, 2014.
We are asking you to pass a $20 million funding appropriation on February 25, 2014 so that we can deposit the funds into the LIHEAP account and ensure no Minnesotan experiences a delay in receiving their payments.
 It is possible that, without additional funds, Minnesotans will not have the money to fill their empty propane tanks. These factors contribute to the urgency of the situation:
 
To date, there are been 141,008 applications. Of those, 84% or 118,648 have been fully  processed.
 
The program has expended more “crisis payments” over the past two weeks than in the
entire period between September 1, 2013 and January 31, 2014. A crisis is defined as a  propane tank at less than 30%, and the initial grant payment has been exhausted. The total number of households receiving crisis payments is 24,785, at a total of $11,113,452. At this time last year, only $4,499.459 in crisis payments were allocated.
 
There are 250 more LIHEAP applicants per day than during this time last year.
 
The eligibility expansion from 50% to 60% has triggered an additional 2,683 applications. Of these, 2,038 are approved and 645 are still in process.
 
A mitigating factor is that the weather is projected to stay bitterly cold throughout the weekend and into next week. This may trigger a surge in applicants worried about their dwindling tank supplies.
Commerce estimates that the state will need the additional funding to cover all of Minnesota’s
LIHEAP eligible applicants. This range is based on the following factors:

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