Special to The News-Press
Stand up and be counted! Florida may lose resources, funding and representation in our federal government unless we do a better job of completing our 2020 Census. It is important that everyone complete their 2020 Census before the September 30 deadline to make sure Florida and our citizens get our fair share of resources from the U.S. government and accurate representation in Congress.
We know that Florida’s population grows every year. That’s no surprise given the state’s natural beauty, the hospitality of our residents and the no-tax, low regulation business climate we offer in the Sunshine State. The last time the United States completed a census in 2010, our population was around 18.6 million. Today, it’s estimated to be near 22 million.
With our growing population, we must make sure that every Floridian is counted so that our state receives its fair share of federal funding. Federal funding supports many aspects of our daily lives. It builds roads and bridges. It provides community infrastructure, including health care, senior centers, schools and jobs. More than $675 billion in federal funding flows back to the states and local communities each year based on census data.
Importantly, our representation in the U.S. House of Representatives is determined by our census data. Based on data from the 2010 Census, Florida gained two additional seats in Congress, giving our state a stronger delegation to advance the issues important to our communities. Given the continued growth of our population over the last decade, Florida stands to gain more seats in the House after the 2020 Census is complete.
But currently, Florida’s response rate on the 2020 Census does not provide a full picture of our population, who we are and where we live. As of August 30, just 61% of Floridians have completed the 2020 census, which is far below the national response rate of 65%. We rank 33rd among the states and territories.
Without a full picture of our state’s population, Florida could lose resources, funding and representation. For each Floridian that goes uncounted, Florida’s state and local budgets will lose an estimated $15,000 per person per year.
I know we can do better.
It’s simple. All one has to do is visit 2020census.gov. It only takes a few minutes to respond to 12 questions.
If you’re visited by a Census taker, take the time to answer their questions. First, check to make sure they have a valid ID with their photograph and a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark. You can easily identify them by the bags they carry with the Census Bureau logo. All census takers visiting neighborhoods are trained to efficiently collect and appropriately protect your information. Census takers are abiding by CDC guidelines, too, by wearing a face covering and keeping at least six feet distance between you and others at your home.
Your responses to the 2020 Census are safe, secure and protected by federal law. Your answers will only be used to produce statistics about your community and our state. Those statistics determine how much resources, funding and representation Florida will receive from the federal government for the next 10 years.
Help us ensure Florida gets the best possible outcome from the 2020 Census. Stand up and be counted!
(Kathleen Passidomo is State Senator for District 28. She currently serves as the Senate Majority Leader.)