Ducey inaction on Census could cost AZ $1.8 billion

13th Aug 2020

The accuracy of the 2020 Census likely shall be as murky as it is muddy because two things are clear at this point in time:

  • The Trump administration apparently wants a guaranteed undercount, especially among Latino and other underserved communities, by ordering an early deadline for collection of data.
  • The Ducey administration is doing nothing to prevent that guaranteed undercount, even though it may mean $1 billion or more in lost federal monies for Arizona over the next decade.

A letter signed on by many Arizona leaders call on Governor Doug Ducey to exert any influence he has – as CEO of the Arizona, as co-chairman of the U.S. Council of Governors, and as loyal Trump ally and supporter – to urge a return to the Oct. 31 deadline for census counting.

The governor, however, has shown he puts partisan politics and blind loyalty to Trump ahead of the best interests for the state of Arizona for generations to come – long after his term ends in two years. He refuses to lead in order to avoid a Census crisis, instead choosing to follow the Trump plan for an undercount that will cost Arizonans dearly.

By the Census own admission: “It’s estimated that up to $3,000 per person, per year is at stake for every Arizonan. That is more than $20 billion dollars annually that helps support Arizona’s communities. In fact, for every Arizonan who does not respond to the census, the state stands to lose $887 in federal funding. Just a 1% undercount would represent a loss to the state of $62 million per year for a decade, for a total loss of $620 million.”

As of Sept. 27, Arizona enumerated count was 96.4% (including a 32.9% self-response rate), which puts Arizona near the bottom of U.S. states, with only eight states below us.

A 3% undercount would result in a $1.86 billion loss in federal funds over the next decade.

The Trump administration rescinded the Oct. 31 deadline for Census counting, even though that was the established date in response to the pandemic and field offices closing for a couple of months as a result. An arbitrary deadline instead was moved up to Sept. 30.

A federal judge ordered a return to the Oct. 31 deadline, but the Trump administration is ignoring the court ruling and instead will quit counting people on Oct. 5 – even though that means Latino, tribal and rural communities will be undercounted. At this point in time, judging by the actions and inactions of both the Trump and Ducey administrations, there is no evidence to suggest the undercount is anything but intentional.

While the governor’s office has dedicated $600,000 in additional advertising outreach, money cannot buy time – and additional time is the only tool to avoid a significant undercount in the Census.

Ducey’s legacy as governor will include his refusal to act at a crucial time, with Arizona losing out on $1 billion or more because he refuses to challenge the Trump administration’s fatally flawed strategy for the Census.

Through his inaction, Ducey’s legacy will include less federal funding for Arizona:

  • Education: National School Lunch Program, Head Start, and special education services
  • Healthcare: Medicare and Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS)
  • Public Works: Construction of highways, roads and streets and public transportation
  • Community Services: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), emergency response plans and non-profit agency services
  • Economic Development: Urban planning, location of new businesses and expansion of businesses, schools, hospitals and health care facilities.

The Census count also is used to determine population-based representation in Congress in terms of the number of each state’s delegates to the U.S. House of Representatives. As a result of the undercount, Arizona could lose out on vital representation in Washington, D.C.

Arizona is one of the nation's fastest growing states, but that fact won’t be accurately reflected in this Census, with countless Arizonans harmed as a result.

If ever there were an opportunity for Governor Ducey to show vision through leadership, now would be the time. But like accuracy in the Census, I’m not counting on it.

For Census information and/or to fill out the Census survey, go to: #CPLCcounts.




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