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Key Issue Update: 2020 Census


By: Dr. John Dobard, Manager of Political Voice

An accurate decennial census count is crucial to ensuring fair political representation and allocation of public funds. However, Congress’ insufficient investment in the U.S. Census Bureau will have both immediate and long-term ramifications on our democracy. As of today, the Census Bureau has not received its traditional ramp up in funding to support planning and important comprehensive testing programs in time for the count. Emerging public narratives on the census tend to focus on the partisan tensions surrounding many discussions related to federal funding, similar to the debates around healthcare and immigration. In California, a state whose demographics are rapidly changing, a miscount could jeopardize billions of dollars in federal funding for critical public services, such as schools and crime prevention programs.

Advancement Project California is leading the Census Policy Advocacy Network (CPAN), a statewide coalition of organizations committed to educating policymakers and community leaders about the government investment and sound policies needed to obtain the most accurate count possible of the nation’s population. This past June, CPAN spearheaded and won an ask of $3 million in the 17-18 CA state budget, which will be used as an initial investment as our state prepares to implement new technologies and methods to reach hard-to-count populations. California also committed $7 million to support local government participation in the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) Program, which is slated to begin later this year. The LUCA Program is a crucial opportunity for tribal, state, and local governments to ensure an accurate census count by reviewing and providing input on the Census Bureau’s residential address list for their jurisdiction.

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