JEFFERSON CITY - Just a few days after the governor announced his plan to double funding available to low-income households using propane, a Democratic senator said this use of funds is unacceptable.
Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, said Gov. Jay Nixon's plan will result in a decrease in funding for low-income non-propane users in Kansas City and St. Louis.
Individuals on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program receive subsidies on the costs of heating their house whether they use propane, electric, or natural gas furnaces.
Nixon announced on Monday that the state had received $14.9 million from the federal government toward the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Due to the rising propane prices in Missouri and surrounding states, Nixon chose to delegate this funding surplus toward only propane users.
His plan will result in the available financial assistance for low income propane users to go from $264 to $450 per year to $528 to $900 per year. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the price of residential and wholesale propane has risen more than a dollar per gallon in the past month.
According to Nasheed, the low income households in St. Louis rely primarily on natural gas and would not see the benefits of the federal funding surplus. She said the bottom line is that the the low-income households in St. Louis and Kansas City need the funding just as much as the low-income households in rural areas.
"That's essentially robbing Peter to pay Paul," Nasheed said.
Nasheed said Nixon should use the federal funding surplus to instead fully fund the Utilicare program. The Utilicare program is supposed to provide financial assistance to elderly, disabled and qualified low-income households that use any heating source.
"There are more people in need then ever before in all parts of Missouri, and the Utilicare Program has not been funded in about seven years," Nasheed said.
Sen. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, said he supports Nixon's focus on low income propane users and is also a leading proponent in the investigation of propane price gouging.
"This is definitely a crisis and we need to be able to help these people," Parson said about propane price increase.
Parson said the money does not belong to any part of the state as it is federal disaster money, and should go to the people most in need.
"It's for people in need it's not about taking money away from anybody, I don't look at it that way," Parson said.