This week, AARP New York State Director Lois Aronstein wrote to State Senate Conference Leader John Sampson urging the State Senate to ensure adequate funding for the Public Utility Law Project (PULP), as a "partner we rely on to better serve our millions of members." The April 20, 2010 letter states:
We are greatly distressed that the on-going state budget process in the Senate has not yet included any funding to support PULP for the fiscal year which began on April 1st. The Legislature has included PULP funding every year since 1981 and must continue to do so to maintain the vital services offered by PULP.Short term funding extenders state agencies requested by the Governor are being passed by the Legislature, but these do not affect funding for PULP and many other state-funded nonprofit organizations.
If the State does not fund PULP at a sustainable level, the organization will be forced to close its doors. As a result, New Yorkers will lose an advocate who represented their interests in many important proceedings on behalf of seniors and low-income consumers. Without affordable utility services, we expect to see many low-income families and seniors go without light and heat and the ability to contact emergency services, any of which may lead to homelessness and other hardships.
I strongly urge you to include adequate funding resources for PULP in the state budget currently under negotiation. It is essential that PULP is able to continue to assist the neediest New Yorkers and remain a committed partner with AARP on these essential and fundamental issues.
At week's end, there was still no indication when or if the budget impasse will be resolved.
This year's legislative session is currently scheduled to end on June 21, 2010.