Census Information Guides More than 7.6 Billion Dollars Annually in Federal Funds to Alabama
Jim Carnes, Policy Director, Arise Citizens’ Policy Project
(Montgomery, AL, Wednesday, December 20, 2017) – Alabama and the state’s almost 4.8 million residents have a large stake in a fair and accurate 2020 Census. The state’s share of federal funding for vital services depends on it, as well as its allotment of members of Congress. But as the 2020 Census fast approaches, alarms about inadequate preparations are ringing across the nation. So far, federal policymakers have severely underfunded preparations for the 2020 Census by hundreds of millions of dollars.
Continuing down this path will lead to an inadequate Census, and that could result in Alabama’s population being understated by tens or even hundreds of thousands. The Census is more than a head count. Population data are used to reapportion congressional seats and redraw lines for the Legislature, school boards and other districts across the state.
Jim Carnes, policy director at Arise Citizens’ Policy Project, explains more about the importance of a properly administered Census in Alabama.
CENSUS INFORMATION GUIDES MORE THAN SEVEN-POINT-SIX BILLION DOLLARS ANNUALLY IN FEDERAL FUNDS TO ALABAMA. THIS MONEY SUPPORTS VITAL SERVICES LIKE MEDICAID AND MEDICARE, HEAD START, SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAMS, HOUSING, HIGHWAYS AND TRANSPORTATION. ON ANOTHER FRONT, A POOR CENSUS COUNT COULD ALSO COST ALABAMA A CONGRESSIONAL SEAT. WE CANNOT AFFORD TO WAIT UNTIL TWENTY-TWENTY TO PROTECT OUR STAKE IN THE CENSUS. THE WHITE HOUSE RECENTLY ASKED CONGRESS TO INCREASE FUNDING FOR THE CENSUS BUREAU BY ONE-HUNDRED-EIGHTY-SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS. BUT WE THINK A MORE APPROPRIATE INCREASE FOR THE ENORMOUS JOB AHEAD WOULD BE CLOSER TO FOUR-HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS.
HISTORICALLY, THE CENSUS BUREAU HAS PUT SERIOUS RESOURCES INTO NEIGHBORHOODS WITH LARGE COMMUNITIES OF COLOR. BUT, INSUFFICIENT FUNDING THREATENS THIS TREND. NEARLY ONE IN TEN ALABAMIANS LIVE IN WHAT ARE CALLED “HARD TO COUNT AREAS” WHERE THEY ARE LESS LIKELY TO BE TRACKED. ThHESE AREAS INCLUDE TWENTY-TWO-POINT-FIVE PERCENT OF ALABAMA’S AFRICAN AMERICAN POPULATION, NINETEEN PERCENT OF LATINOS LIVING IN THE STATE, FIFTEEN-POINT-FIVE PERCENT OF ASIANS AND EIGHT-POINT-TWO PERCENT OF WHITES. THE TIME TO CONTACT U-S SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES IS NOW, BEFORE THEY CONSIDER FINAL FUNDING FOR NEXT YEAR. ALABAMA HAS TOO MUCH AT STAKE OVER THE NEXT DECADE TO SETTLE FOR ANYTHING LESS.
For more information, please visit arisecitizens.org.