There was a great op-ed in a recent Sunday U-B about why an accurate 2020 Census is so important to local businesses—and therefore to all of us. I’d like to add two more reasons why it makes a difference to each of us whether every person is counted.
First, the Census count determines how many votes we get in Congress. There are 435 voting seats in the House of Representatives, and they’re re-apportioned among the states every 10 years, when the Census results are in. States with higher counts get more seats and those with lower counts get fewer seats.
Second, a portion of the money that cities and counties receive from state and federal sources is based on population.
Local governments need to provide services and programs and maintain infrastructure for every single person who lives here, regardless of whether they’re counted in the Census. But if the Census undercounts our actual population, we’ll receive less from state and federal government, and more money will have to come from our local pockets.
For example, the city of Walla Walla will receive an estimated $1,295,000 in State Shared Revenues this year. These include liquor profits and tax, criminal justice, motor vehicle fuel taxes, and multimodal distribution.
It would be too bad if we lost part of that as a result of census questions or processes that discourage some of our residents from being counted.
It’s important and simply fair that the number of seats we get in Congress and the amount of population-based revenue we’re owed from state and federal government be based on a complete and accurate count of the people who live here — adults and children, citizens and non-citizens, voters and non-voters. Let’s make sure that we’re all counted.
Mayor Barbara Clark