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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

DRC Bulletin #15

Click here for the nicely formatted pdf version of the DRC Bulletin #15
 ----------------------------------
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SEPTEMBER, 2012 BULLETIN # 15
EDITOR
EDITOR THE NEW YORK STATE
DEMOCRATIC RURAL CONFERENCE
WHAT HAVE WE BEEN DOING?
We passed a resolution at our July 16 conference call meeting urging our
representatives to vote against the House legislation which would result in closing
some rural post offices, curtailing deliveries substantially and laying off many
workers. Congresswoman Louise Slaughter responded, thanking us for our
resolution and stating that she has been working toward strengthening the postal
service for many years now, and was very much in sympathy with our resolution.
USPS Resolution
WHEREAS the United States Postal Service (USPS) is a vital national resource that provides essential services to 151 million households and businesses and supports more than 7 million private sector jobs; and
WHEREAS the services offered by the USPS have long been particularly critical to the social and economic life of rural communities; and
WHEREAS advanced telecommunications technologies that have been cited as viable alternatives to postal services are often unavailable or unaffordable in those aforementioned rural communities; and
WHEREAS the requirement placed upon the USPS by Congress to pre-fund retiree health obligations for the next 75 years is an unreasonable fiduciary burden that has not been required of any other organization, public or private, in the country; and
WHEREAS the aforementioned fiduciary requirement is responsible for 85% of the USPS’ financial losses since it was enacted in 2006; and
WHEREAS the United States Congress is currently considering the Postal Service Reform Act of 2012 (H.R. 2309), which would end weekend mail delivery; terminate at-home mail delivery and close thousands of local post offices, which would drastically slow mail delivery and impede access for thousands of people with mobility issues and would be especially felt in rural America where distances are so great; and would eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs at a time when the U.S. economy continues to struggle.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Democratic Rural Conference of New York State strongly opposes passage of the Postal Service Reform Act of 2012 (H.R. 2309); and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Democratic Rural Conference of New York State requests and recommends that the United States Congress eliminate the unfair and unreasonable requirement that the USPS pre-fund retiree health obligations for the next 75 years and work to incorporate USPS retiree health benefits into the reforms enacted in the Patient Protection and Affordability Act signed into law in 2010; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Secretary of the Democratic Rural Conference of New York State is hereby directed to forward copies of this resolution to the entire New York State Congressional Delegation and to
U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Congress has not acted on the USPS Bill.

On August 18 we held a Board meeting in Syracuse, where we began a discussion of
allocation of funding. No decision was reached, and a Board meeting Conferene Call
is scheduled for September 17 to discuss possible funding for county committees and
candidates and their committees, etc.
Dawn Rivers, Issues Committees Chair, reported that her survey of members'
identification of important issues resulted in the economy (including infrastructure
issues) as the most frequent area of concern. School funding and reform as well as
property tax/unfunded mandates were two other major concerns. The Committee
will be preparing material in advance of scheduling a meeting with the Lt.
Governor's office to discuss these issues further. Chairwoman Rivers expressed her
appreciation for the prompt and generous response of the DRC membership to her
request for input.
We will be inviting NYSDC Co-Chairs and Exec. Director to meet with us to discuss
how we can strengthen our bonds with them and how they can help us in our
common mission to elect Democratic candidates in New York State. Some ideas that
have emerged involve broader transmission of information to State Committee
Members, strengthen our electronic communication by establishing a
Bulletin Board for consultation, information and expertise on election issues . The
Lawyers' Council should be involved here, and we will invite them to a meeting as
well.
The Chair was instructed to communicate with the Governor's Office by phone and
letter, urging him to hold regional meetings upstate to share information about our
areas and to support our candidates.
The DRC Facebook page is available to highlight candidates, issues and any
interesting programs individual counties are undertaking. Send them to Don
Ackerman at bdonack@aol.com to be posted.

The role of Associate Members was discussed. Currently they cannot vote in
membership meetings but there is nothing in our By-Laws to preclude their running
for Board or Officer positions. The Board passed a resolution at it Aug. 18 meeting
allowing any Associate Member to run for Board or office providing that member is a
resident of a DRC county. This is an addition to the By-Laws and will be brought to
the members for ratification at the next meeting.
Secretary Phil Jones will review the changes in weighted voting caused by the
redistricting and present a new list of weighted votes to the Board and membership.
Below is a brief explanation of what this change might mean for some Counties.
The By-Laws provide for each DRC County to have 10 votes. The distribution of the
weighted vote within a County depends on the number of Assembly districts within a
County or the number of State Committee members(SCM). So if today, your County
has 2 Assembly districts (4 State Committee members), each SCM has a weighted vote
of 2 and the County Chair has a weighted vote of 2 for a total of 10 weighted votes for
the county. If on January 1, 2013 your County has only one Assembly district (2 SCM), then each
SCM would have a weighted vote of 3 and the County Chair would have a weighted
vote of 4 for a total of 10 for your County.
If there is no change in the number of Assembly Districts in your County on January
1, then there will be no change in the weighted vote within your County.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
DRC BY-LAWS-Section on Voting
VOTING Every member County shall be afforded 10 votes, equally divided between the
State Committee Member (SCM) and the Chair of each county. In cases where the votes
cannot be divided equally, the odd vote remaining will be exercised by the Chair of the
county. A member may vote by a written proxy held by a registered Democrat from the
absent member's county, so long as said signed proxy is registered with the DRC Secretary
prior to the opening of the meeting. In the event that a County Chair is also a State
Committee member, they may designate another registered Democrat from their County to
cast their extra votes.
----------------------------
MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR
Re-elect President Obama.
We can do this! Polling shows Obama is not the underdog, and the choice of Ryan,
while energizing the Tea-Party people, will backfire on message IF we do what needs
to be done to publicize the facts about the President's accomplishments and the effects
the Republican proposals would have on most Americans. And if we get out the vote
even better than we have done before, we will win.

We need to explain to folks that the Affordable Health Care Act will cover more of our
people who are uninsured, will help college students, will cover senior prescriptions
now in an uncovered “doughnut hole”, nullify exclusion for preexisting conditions, etc.

We need to explain to folks that the amount of the proposed cuts in Medicare is the
same amount both parties are putting forth! But The R's want to offer people
vouchers they can use on the private market under the mercy of insurance company
rates and their tendency and history to keep rising. The Republicans truly want to
end Medicare as we know it.

We need to remind folks that the R's in Congress have obstructed the road to
economic recovery and jobs. They put winning elections above solving the problems
of the country. That is the long and short of it!

These facts alone should be more than enough, if communicated again and again, to
re-elect the President and to elect Democrats to Congress who will support him by
putting people first.

Contact Rob Diamond at the State committee to find out how you can help. Calling
and canvassing in Pennsylvania and Ohio are important activities. Working for our
Congressional candidates in every way possible is essential. We can do this!
MOVING FORWARD!
Irene

To subscribe to our list serve go to: NYSDemocraticRuralConference-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
To Post a Message on the List serve go to : NYSDemocraticRuralConference@yahoogroups.com
Meet on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Democratic-Rural-Conference-of-New-York-State/162050418621
--------------------------------------------
Or e-mail us at:
Irene Stein, Chair ---- iws2iws2@gmail.com
Dan McCandless, Vice Chair --- danmcc44@earthlink.net;
Cindy Emmer, Treasurer --- cindy.emmer@yahoo.com
Phil Jones, Secretary --- phildem@rochester.rr.com
Don Ackerman, Parlimentarian --- Bdonack@aol.com;
Doris Kirsch, Asst. Secretary --- wdkirsch@gmail.com;
Dawn Rivers, Issues Committee Chair --- me@dawnisme.com
Dan McCandless, By-Laws Committee Chair --- danmcc44@earthlink.net
Tom Poelker, Political Committee Chair --- tpoelker@aol.com
Jane Dodds, Conference Chair ---- jmdodds@aol.com
Mark Bellardini, Labor Committee Chair bellar@earthlink.net
Ted Young, Board Member---- tyoung28@rochester.rr.com
Bob Reynolds, Board Member ---- bobnkaren@live.com
Cindy Lockrow, Board Member ---- lockrow@hotmail.com
Joe Pickreign, Board Member ----- jpic11@roadrunner.com
Joyce Melfi, Board Member ------- babbmelfi@juno.com
Ian Brody, Web Master --- ian.brody@ianbrody.com;
DRC Board Services...
SPEAKERS Bureau:
The following DRC Executive Committee Members are available as speakers at DRC County events:
Irene Stein, Cindy Emmer, Tom Poelker or Phil Jones.
Mentoring Services: The DRC Executive Committee has many experienced County Chairs. As such, we are available
to mentor and provide support to new County Chairs.
DUES
Dues are $10 for 2012, checks are payable to the DRC and should be sent to Cindy Emmer, 858 Davis St., Elmira, NY
14901.
If you are not getting correspondence from the DRC, be sure to share your e-mail address
with phildem@rochester.rr.com
CONTRIBUTORS TO THE BULLETIN: IRENE STEIN, PHIL JONES, DON ACKERMAN, DORIS KIRSCH, DAWN RIVERS

Sunday, July 22, 2012

DRC Resolution Supports Rural Postal Service and the USPS

Please note the following resolution from the DRC on behalf of Postal Service to Rural Post Office and the US Postal Service:
 
Click here to see the cover letter sent attached to this resolution.
Click here to view the formatted version of the resolution.

Resolution Contents
==================
WHEREAS the United States Postal Service (USPS) is a vital national resource that provides
essential services to 151 million households and businesses and supports more than 7 million
private sector jobs; and

WHEREAS the services offered by the USPS have long been particularly critical to the social and
economic life of rural communities; and

WHEREAS advanced telecommunications technologies that have been cited as viable
alternatives to postal services are often unavailable or unaffordable in those aforementioned rural
communities; and

WHEREAS the requirement placed upon the USPS by Congress to pre-fund retiree health
obligations for the next 75 years is an unreasonable fiduciary burden that has not been required of
any other organization, public or private, in the country; and

WHEREAS the aforementioned fiduciary requirement is responsible for 85% of the USPS’
financial losses since it was enacted in 2006; and

WHEREAS the United States Congress is currently considering the Postal Service Reform Act of
2012 (H.R. 2309), which would end weekend mail delivery; terminate at-home mail delivery and
close thousands of local post offices, which would drastically slow mail delivery and impede
access for thousands of people with mobility issues and would be especially felt in rural America
where distances are so great; and would eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs at a time when
the U.S. economy continues to struggle.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Democratic Rural Conference of New York
State strongly opposes passage of the Postal Service Reform Act of 2012 (H.R. 2309); and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Democratic Rural Conference of New York State requests
and recommends that the United States Congress eliminate the unfair and unreasonable
requirement that the USPS pre-fund retiree health obligations for the next 75 years and work to
incorporate USPS retiree health benefits into the reforms enacted in the Patient Protection and
Affordability Act signed into law in 2010; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Secretary of the Democratic Rural Conference of New
York State is hereby directed to forward copies of this resolution to the entire New York State
Congressional Delegation and to U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Sincerely,
Philip A. Jones, Secretary
New York State Democratic Rural Conference

Thursday, June 14, 2012

DRC Bulletin #14 - June 2012

 Below follows a text version of our latest bulletin.
Click Here for the the nicely formatted version.
Click Here for the conference pictures.


JUNE, 2012 BULLETIN # 14
THE NEW YORK STATE DEMOCRATIC RURAL CONFERENCE  
DRC Spring Conference 2012

The Annual Spring Conference of the Democratic Rural Conference was held on April 27 and 28 in Corning, NY and by any measurement was a resounding success. Over 270 attendees from all over New York State spent the weekend listening to outstanding speakers, participated in workshops and panel discussions that focused on making participants from our rural and small counties a more effective and potent political force. The importance of this annual event was reinforced by the attendance and participation of such political notables as Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, NYS Senate Minority Leader John Sampson, Members of Congress Brian Higgins, Kathy Hochul and Assemblywoman Addie Russell, as well as numerous local Democratic office holders. An excellent training session on using Social Media in Political Campaigns was held Friday afternoon and on Saturday morning participants could hear directly from Members of Congress Brian Higgins and Kathy Hochul at a panel discussion, “Democrats in the House”. This was followed by breakout sessions that involved the candidate or their representative from most of the congressional districts represented by DRC members.

On Saturday morning, the membership elected Don Ackerman-Parliamentarian for a one year term. In addition, Cindy Lockrow, Joyce Melfi, Joe Pickreign, Dawn Rivers, and Ted Young were re-elected to 2 year terms as Board Members. If all of this was not enough there was plenty of time to socialize with all of the aforementioned notables as well with their fellow DRC members and friends fromthroughout the state.

Next year’s Conference is tentatively planned for late April, 2013 in Saratoga Springs.
Be certain not to miss it.

2012 has been a very busy 5 months. In addition to the Spring Conference, the Board’s Issues Committee has been very active.
• The Executive Board of the DRC Conference on January 28, 2012 passed a resolution urging Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Senator David Valesky to support and work to change the funding formula so that 73% of the 2012 school district budget increase goes to low-wealth and high poverty districts. In addition, The Executive Board of the DRC also supported the New York State Board of Regents in their call for reform of the school funding formula so that 73% of the 2012-13 school aid increases prioritize low-wealth and high poverty school districts.
• The Executive Board of the DRC Conference on April 9, 2012 passed a resolution urging Governor Andrew Cuomo, Lt.Governor Robert Duffy, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Senate Minority Leader John Sampson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Transportation, George Maziarz, and Chair of the Assembly Committee on Energy Kevin Cahill to support the Energy Highway electric power upgrade proposal. In solidarity with the New York State IBEW Utility Workers, the DRC believes the Energy Highway will provide economic development opportunities to the stressed Upstate economy as well asproviding benefit to Southeastern New York.
• The DRC General Membership at our 5-23-12 meeting passed a resolution urging Governor Andrew Cuomo, Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Senate Minority Leader John Sampson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, Mark Grisanti, Chair of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee, Robert Sweeney to support home rule and disclosure of all chemicals used in the process of horizontal fracking. More specifically the resolution urges the passage of Assembly and Senate bills A.8557/S.5830, which allows local governments to enact or enforce certain laws and ordinances relating to oil, gas and solution mining, and A6426-2011, which relates to the regulation of the drilling of natural gas resources, prohibits natural gas drilling near watersheds, requires disclosure of hydraulic materials, provides protection of other environmental resources, requires permits for water withdrawals of more than five thousand gallons per day, and requires inspections and annual audits. In addition, the Democratic Rural Conference of the State of New York recommended and requested the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to specifically address the concerns identified by the comprehensive scientific study that was prepared by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection as well as the deficiencies identified in the Joint Legal Memorandum on the Revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement submitted on behalf of Catskill Mountainkeeper, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Earthjustice, The Natural Resources Defense Council, Riverkeeper and the Sierra Club.

• The DRC General Membership at our 5-23-12 meeting passed a resolution urging Governor Andrew Cuomo, Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Senate Minority Leader John Sampson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari, and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb to strongly support our sisters and brothers in the labor movement who stand on the front lines of the struggle to improve standards of living for all of our state’s and nation’s residents.
• The issues committee also received a request from a DRC Member asking that the DRC support a
resolution regarding the Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision. After careful review, the Issues Committee recommended to the Board that the DRC should not adopt the suggested resolution on Citizens United. However, we have also recommended that the Board adopt a resolution requesting that the Reform Caucus add Citizens United to their agenda, which should result in a similar resolution being brought before the whole of the State Committee for a vote. The Issues Committee recognizes that the issue is one of critical importance. However, we were concerned about whether it is an appropriate issue for the DRC to address. For one thing, Citizens United is much larger than the DRC; it really is an issue that should be addressed (very loudly) by all New York Democrats, via the State Committee. In addition, the Issues Committee felt that the DRC should be careful about diffusing its focus from the issues that are specific to New York's rural counties. Democratic elected officials from non-rural counties have come to rely on the DRC for good counsel on those unique issues. If we begin to look just like the State Committee or the Reform Caucus, we will lose our hard won opportunity to bring attention to our unique perspective and exert a rural influence on the party and on our elected officials.
• The Issues Committee is comprised of the following individuals: Dawn Rivers, Chair; Sue Montgomery Corey; Bob Reynolds; Judith Hunter; Diane Louis, Mark Bellardini, Rose Aulino, Richard Mackay and John Hurley. Please feel free to contact us regarding issues that you feel are broad based rural issues relevant to New York’s rural counties.
Communications
• The Communications team is focusing on greater awareness of the DRC and its members and counties through more effective use of social media. If you have a particularly interesting candidate and/or office holder the rest of us around the state would and should hear about, then let us know. Also, if your local committee has an interesting project or campaign strategy you would like to share with us, send it and we will post some of them on the DRC Facebook page. Send items to me at bdonack@yahoo.com.
Thanks - Don Ackerman - Communications Chairperson

The next 7 months will continue to be busy for the DRC and all of our members. The November election will be priority number one for all of us but the DRC Board has a number of issues that we will be addressing in the coming months.
1. Prior to January, we will have to adjust the DRC vote distribution within Counties based on the new redistricting plan. All DRC Counties are entitled to 10 votes per county but the distribution of thos weighted votes within each County depends on the number of Assembly Districts that each County has. The redistricting changes the formula within a number of our 47 counties. We will be communicating with all of you on this issue as we approach the end of the year. Between now and January 1, 2013 nothing changes.
2. Preliminary work will begin toward the end of the year on the 2013 Spring Conference in Saratoga. Next year will be a year of local elections. We will offer campaign training and would very much like to hear your suggestions as to which topics you would like to be covered.


THE NEW YORK STATE DEMOCRATIC RURAL CONFERENCE
DRC - The next 7 months
Message from the Chair
NEW YORK MOVING FORWARD THE OBAMA/CUOMO TEAM

The DRC is well-poised for Victory in November Our State Senate and Assembly candidates are in true accord with New Yorkers, be it the increase in the minimum wage, tax reform, fair taxation, same sex marriage and more.. The Republicans continue on their agenda of favoring those who need their help the least with the biggest breaks they can provide.
A similar story plays out at the national level. President Obama has brought us back from the abyss with policies that saved our automobile industry, retained and created jobs. He is supporting the regulation we need to prevent the kind of failure of regulation that brought us into an economic mess. He knows we must move forward.

Working together, the DRC, NYSDCC, and our amazing Governor can only win in November.
MOVING FORWARD,
Irene

THE DRC CONTACT INFO, ETC . . . .
Web page: www.nysdrc.org
To subscribe to our list serve go to: NYSDemocraticRuralConference-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
To Post a Message on the List serve go to : NYSDemocraticRuralConference@yahoogroups.com
Meet on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Democratic-Rural-Conference-of-New-York-State/162050418621
--------------------------------------------
Or e-mail us at:
Irene Stein, Chair ---- iws2iws2@gmail.com
Dan McCandless, Vice Chair --- danmcc44@earthlink.net;
Cindy Emmer, Treasurer --- cindy.emmer@yahoo.com
Phil Jones, Secretary --- phildem@rochester.rr.com
Don Ackerman, Parlimentarian --- Bdonack@aol.com;
Doris Kirsch, Asst. Secretary --- wdkirsch@gmail.com;
Dawn Rivers, Issues Committee Chair --- me@dawnisme.com
Dan McCandless, By-Laws Committee Chair --- danmcc44@earthlink.net
Tom Poelker, Political Committee Chair --- tpoelker@aol.com
Jane Dodds, Conference Chair ---- jmdodds@aol.com
Mark Bellardini, Labor Committee Chair bellar@earthlink.net
Ted Young, Board Member---- tyoung28@rochester.rr.com
Bob Reynolds, Board Member ---- bobnkaren@live.com
Cindy Lockrow, Board Member ---- lockrow@hotmail.com
Joe Pickreign, Board Member ----- jpic11@roadrunner.com
Joyce Melfi, Board Member ------- babbmelfi@juno.com
Ian Brody, Web Master --- ian.brody@ianbrody.com;
DRC Board Services...
SPEAKERS Bureau:
The following DRC Executive Committee Members are available as speakers at DRC County events:
Irene Stein, Cindy Emmer, Tom Poelker or Phil Jones.
Mentoring Services: The DRC Executive Committee has many experienced County Chairs. As such, we are available
to mentor and provide support to new County Chairs.
DUES
Dues are $10 for 2012, checks are payable to the DRC and should be sent to Cindy Emmer, 858 Davis St., Elmira, NY
14901.
If you are not getting correspondence from the DRC, be sure to share your e-mail address
with phildem@rochester.rr.com
CONTRIBUTORS TO THE BULLETIN: IRENE STEIN, PHIL JONES, DON ACKERMAN


THE NEW YORK STATE
DEMOCRATIC RURAL CONFERENCE
2012 DRC MEMBERSHIP FORM
Note: Dues are due January of each year
NAME___________________________________
ADDRESS: ________________________________
ADDRESS:_________________________________
EMAIL____________________________________
PHONE: ___________________________________
COUNTY: _________________________________
TITLE: COUNTY CHAIR________
STATE COMMITTEE MEMBER_____________
OTHER (FOR ASSOCIATE MEMBERS) _________________
Please enclose a check made out to DRC in the amount of $10 per person and mail to Cindy Emmer 858 Davis St Elmira, NY 14901

Sunday, April 29, 2012

DRC Supports the Energy Highway!

The Executive Board of the Democratic Rural Conference strongly endorses the Energy Highway electric power upgrade proposal. In solidarity with the New York State IBEW Utility Workers, the DRC believes the Energy Highway will provide economic development opportunities to the stressed Upstate economy as well as providing benefit to Southeastern New York.

Read the whole resolution here!



Sunday, February 26, 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

2012 Conference Registration

The print and mail/fax registration form is now available for the 2012 conference.

It is available at
http://nysdrc.org/drc/docs/2012DRCConventionRegistration.pdf

The online registration is available here http://nysdrc.org/drc/2012ConReg.asp

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

DRC Resolution Supports Reform of the School Funding Formula

NEW YORK STATE DEMOCRATIC RURAL CONFERENCE (DRC)
 
Whereas, our state leaders have committed to a four percent increase in school aid as part of the 2012-13 NYS budget, 

and, 

Whereas, the funding cuts enacted as part of the 2012 NYS budget disproportionately hurt low-wealth, high poverty school districts and rural counties,
and,

Whereas, the cap on local school budgets will increase the inequities between school districts and combined with cuts in state aid will undermine the quality of our schools

and,

Whereas, many of these low-wealth and high poverty school districts serve rural children,  

and,

Whereas, the Democratic Rural Conference advocates for its rural constituents to the extent of its ability,

Now, therefore, be it hereby resolved

That the Executive Board of the DRC supports the New York State Board of Regents in their call for reform of the school funding formula so that 73% of the 2012-13 school aid increases prioritize low-wealth and high poverty school districts,

and be it further resolved

That the Executive Board of the DRC Conference urges Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Senate Minority Leader B. Kolb and Senator David Valesky to support and work to change the funding formula so that 73% of the 2012 school district budget increase goes to low-wealth and high poverty districts.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Open Letter in Support of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program


December 2011

Dear Governor Cuomo, Congressional Delegation:

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) opens in New York this week and it opens to reduced benefit levels that will hurt low-income New Yorkers in every county.  The Democratic Rural Caucus (DRC) is writing to urge you to oppose federal funding cuts for this important program and restoration of funding levels to the FY 2011 levels.

New York’s LIHEAP Program is the largest in the country and provides critical heating assistance in every community, rural and urban.  It serves the most vulnerable portion of our population.  Many of those receiving heating bill payment assistance through LIHEAP are elderly, disabled or children under the age of six.  In many rural communities, LIHEAP provides critical heating assistance that helps those with heating systems fueled by bulk fuels (oil, kerosene, propane). 

LIHEAP is a heat or eat program.   For LIHEAP households, this often means the difference between buying medicine or food or heating their home.  LIHEAP households and the tradeoffs that they make to heat are well documented:
  • 40 percent have someone age 60 or older
  • 72 percent have a family member with a serious medical condition
  • 26 percent use medical equipment that requires electricity
  • 37 percent went without medical or dental care
  • 34 percent did not fill a prescription or took less than their full dose of prescribed medication
  • 19 percent became sick because the home was too cold
  • 85 percent of people with a medical condition are seniors

New York’s Congressional delegation (both houses, both parties) has long supported this important program.  We are writing to ask you to support it again as the discussion about 2012 funding levels continues.  LIHEAP was funded nationally at $4.7 billion in FY 2011.  When the Dept. of Health and Human Services released its 2012 funding at the end of October, they released $1.7 billion nationally.  This is resulting in a smaller program with lower benefits which will be an especially serious issue for rural households who rely on bulk fuels that are increasing by 20-30% this year.

Please continue your support for this critical program and encourage the President and both houses of Congress to seek additional funding for this critical resource.

Sincerely,
Irene Stein, Chairwoman
The DRC membership



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