Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Night the Lights Went Out in Texas

You know the line item on your electric bill that funds a program helping poor people pay their electric bills?

Well, the Texas Legislature has decided to steal that money.

Effective September 1, low-income Texans will no longer receive electric bill assistance from the state. Approximately 391,000 households have been getting power bill discounts amounting to an average of $13 to $17 per month. Clearly this is a socialist-flavored free ride that must stop.

The estimated $200 million raised by this fund each year will instead go to the state's general revenue fund so that do-nothing lawmakers can go home and tell their constituents they balanced the budget.

Ironically, this low-income discount fund was started as a part of state electricity deregulation, a controversial, corporate-driven scheme that promised lower energy bills and has thus far failed to deliver for consumers in deregulated markets. Electric bills from our city-owned utility in Austin are routinely lower on average than those of Houston and Dallas, where behemoth concerns like TXU and Reliant compete.

Senate Finance Committee Chair/Apologist Steve Odgen (R-Bryan) says the Lege had no choice but to steal from poor people because the body "lacked the will to reform the tax code." Of course, the centerpiece of Republican tax reform is shifting the tax burden away from the wealthy and onto the poor and middle class.

I hope everyone who supported raising poor people's electric bills in the heat of summer has vivid, soul-crushing nightmares about fixed income grandmothers roasting to death in their homes with the air conditioning turned off to save money. Night-night, Stevie!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

We can still help out others in Austin by giving to CAP (Customer Assistance Program) run by City of Austin utilities. There is line on electric bill that you can add any amount to what you pay and designate that amount to CAP. I hope city overhead is less than state overhead and more of my money is really going to help someone instead of running agency.
SM

Greg said...

Good call there, SM. I thought the Lege was raiding this program for general revenue at first, which would've been even more foul.

Anonymous said...

Save money by switching to a new REP..such as www.StarTexPower.com

Anonymous said...

Deplorable. And this is while members of Congress have yet again voted for another pay raise for themselves?!?!

A.M.