State Lawmakers End Energy Discount Program For Poor Texans To Subsidize State Budget

On September 1st, a state program that allowed 391,000 low income Texans to receive a 10 percent discount on energy bills will be ending. But the $200 million that funded the program, called LITE-UP Texas, will still be collected from other Texans’ energy bills because the Texas Legislature voted earlier this year to continue collecting the money to balance the state budget.

From the Houston Chronicle:

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, said he considers criticism that lawmakers are taking from the poor a “loaded” statement. It is true, however, that lawmakers are essentially collecting money for one thing and using it for another, he said.

“It’s a bad practice over here. It exists because so far the Legislature has lacked the will to reform the tax code and continues in that mode even today,” he said.

The money taken from the LITE-UP program will be used to shore up the stability of the growing Medicaid budget. The program originally began in 2002 as a concession by legislators to allow for the deregulation of electric utilities. With that deregulation leading to electric rates rising as much as 35 percent across the state, low income residents will be losing their discount for the August period, the month with the highest electric bills.

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