Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Horn calls for utility fund changes

Democratic candidate for State Representative for District 10, Kerry Horn, has joined with AARP and others in calling on the state legislature to stop the “raiding” of a fund established to assist Texas’ working poor, elderly and disabled pay their utility bills.
Horn said the raiding is a “breach of trust” and is calling for the Legislative Budget Board to use its authority to make spending adjustments between sessions of the legislature to restore available funds.
“The legislative leadership has used this dedicated fund as a piggy bank that can be raided and depleted, to fund whatever they wish, with apparent disregard for the Texans eligible to be assisted by the fund,” Horn said.
The low-income discount program was created as part of the state’s electric deregulation effort of 1999 and was established through fees collected by residential electric providers from residential electric customers
At one time, more than a half a million qualified Texans received discounts of 10 percent or more on their electricity bills.
Since the initiation of the program, successive legislative sessions have reduced the funds in the program to fund other budgetary requests in the general fund.
Yet utility companies have continued to collect the fees from residential electricity customers to send to the program.
There are now approximately $256 million of non-allocated funds in the state’s treasury designated to a program the Legislature has not funded.

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