So, why the shortage? In 1996, Congress mandated the federal government sell off its reserve of helium by the end of 2014, because of increasing debt connected to the helium. Since then, the amount of helium available in the United States has decreased. That, combined with worldwide production shortages because of equipment failures at helium plants, is leaving helium suppliers with little to sell.Suppliers are raising their prices, and that undoubtedly means higher prices for the customers, too.

no skin off my back, balloons freak me out! **sigh**