FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 4, 2010
It depends on us whether we get the federal funds Texas deserves by how well we respond to the census that begins April 1.
Unfortunately, California and Texas, two of the most poorly counted states, reportedly will lose the most after the last decennial census count, roughly $1.5 billion and $1 billion respectively over the fiscal 2002 to 2012 period.
Such losses are of particular concern for the border, where we have been traditionally underserved despite our growing population.
I urge every South Texan to fill out the simple forms that let Washington know how many residents live in our area. From the count, it is determined how hundreds of billions of federal dollars are distributed to states and communities like ours.
The U.S. Census Monitoring Board reported in 2001 that PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the nation's leading accounting firms, estimated that an undercount in the 2000 census would result in a federal funding loss of more than $4 billion in 31 states and the District of Columbia, with a majority of the funds lost ($3.6 billion) in 58 of the nation's largest counties over the next 10 years. The study concluded that the funding loss would translate to nearly $3,000 per uncounted person in these counties.
If we could get the full measure of the federal funding for our state, imagine the needed services that might be filled in our area.
The census count also directs how we handle redistricting at state legislatures. From the population count every 10 years, we draw new congressional and legislative districts, so this will be one of our duties during the 82nd Legislative Session in 2011.
As a fast-growth area, we will be competing with other Texas regions-particularly suburban areas-for newly created congressional seats.
The census also has a major impact on the private sector, businesses and manufacturers--from airlines to movie theaters--that make decisions based on demographic data. Accurate data can better assist businesses that are making vital decisions regarding where to add flights or perhaps locate a factory.
For me, there is also a strong element of civic duty in filling out these forms. The census is a Constitutional requirement (Article 1, Section 2) established when President George Washington signed the Census Act in 1790.
My father raised my nine siblings and me to believe in what he termed "Americanism." He taught that public service, military service, commitment to one's community, voting and standing up to be counted were mandatory obligations to our country and the price we pay for our participatory government.
It takes fewer than 10 minutes to answer 10 basic questions addressing name, sex, age, date of birth, Hispanic origin, race, household and relationship.
Changes to the reporting process of the Census Bureau and the introduction of the American Community Survey, which collects and produces population and housing information every year instead of every decade, have resulted in a shorter form than in the past, making it easier to fill and send back
Since we have unique cultural challenges in the border region, whether they be our distinct culture, language barriers, immigration status or the all- too-often sense that our voices along the border do not matter, these issues must be fully addressed through continued public awareness to make sure everyone is counted.
Some localities are using the slogan "wherever you lay your head is where you should be counted." This means our Winter Texans and anyone else from outside the area living here during the count should be included.
I join our media, U.S. Census Bureau representatives, local government officials, business heads and community leaders in working together to achieve the most complete count we have ever had and draw the funding that our population and tax dollars make us deserving of.
As always, if you have any input or questions regarding these or other matters, please do not hesitate to contact Doris Sanchez, my Communications Director, 512-463-0385.