The 2020 census is still a year away but the nationwide head count is already on the minds of lawmakers in Austin; they want to make sure that every Texan is counted. That’s because the state loses money for every person missed during the census.
But Texas falls behind other states when it comes to money dedicated to getting the count correct. California has dedicated $150 million to the effort, while Texas, so far, has put up nothing. That concerns state Rep.Cesar Blanco, an El Paso Democrat.
“Texas is behind,” Blanco said at a press conference Monday. “And that’s not a very Texas thing to say, but if we don’t step up, the reality is California is going to eat our lunch; our Texas dollars will be going to California and other states.”
A quarter of Texans are considered difficult to count, and historically, the state’s population has been undercounted, which means that Texas misses out on federal dollars to pay for public schools, highways and health care.
The Center for Public Policy Priorities says even a 1% undercount in 2020 could cost Texas hundreds of millions of dollars.
Priscilla Camacho from the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce says a complete census is also important for business.
“Data is used, by and large, every day, all day, by businesses. When we make relocation decisions, when we talk about expanding in a location, we use data, and much of that is census data,” Camacho says.
The size of Texas’ congressional delegation is also at stake, and advocates say fast-growing Texas could actually lose House seats if too many Texans go uncounted.