HARTFORD - Legislative leaders in Connecticut are mulling the amount of home heating assistance that will be given to residents this winter.

Lawmakers say the state has a surplus of funds larger than they had anticipated. They hope to take that extra money and put it into some kind of energy assistance program for residents.

The federal government expects the average home heating oil bill to be more than $2,700 this winter.

Several versions of the proposed program have been drawn up by the governor?s office, Republicans and Democrats. Though the proposals vary slightly, all agree that more money should be made available for low-income and middle-income families, the elderly, schools and nonprofit organizations.

Those issues will depend upon just how much of the expected $70 million surplus the state is willing to use.

?That's really going to be the big question,? Rep. Jim Amann (D ? Milford) says. ?[Thursday] they're having a public hearing to establish need. The best guess estimate is that it could be as high as $45 million, but we're not quite sure.?

The Republicans are hoping to make a compromise. ?Our proposals come out to about $23 million. The governor's proposals came out to roughly $44 million. We think there's a happy medium in between,? Sen. John McKinney (R ? Fairfield) says.

Lawmakers hope to address the issues in a special session on Friday, Aug. 22. They will go over all the different ideas for a one-time only energy assistance program.