We are quickly catching up with 2020, which means that it’s time for another census for all of us living in the United States. The census is in article one of the Constitution, so it was important to the founders of our country.
The framers of the constitution put it near the beginning because having an accurate count is critical to ensuring that there is equitable representation in congress and in our state legislatures. It has also become important in many other ways as well.
Any federal program where money is parceled out based on data about the people in a given area is based on the census. That’s everything from school lunch programs to energy assistance for the poor and elderly to highway money to special education grants. State programs, such as what share of state transportation money we get here in Tucson, count on data from the census. By the way, even the way we draw ward boundaries is dependent on census numbers.
That means we need an accurate count of people. Despite the best efforts from the Census Bureau, we don’t always get that. For obvious reasons, it is hard to get solid numbers on people that weren’t counted, but in 2010, a little more than one fifth of Pima County residents had to be enumerated in person because they didn’t send their census forms back. That gives a rough idea of a potential undercount.
The Pima Association of Government estimates that a 1% undercount could result in a $56 million loss for our region in just one program. It is critical to many of the things that you want to see from local government that there is a proper count.
Even here in Ward 2, where we had some of the highest response rates, there is one census tract where it is estimated that 30% of people did not respond. That means we missed out on resources for our roads, police and parks.
This isn’t just about Ward 2, but it’s about Tucson and Southern Arizona. That’s why we are teaming up with the US Census, the Mayor’s Office and the Pima Association of Governments to form a Complete Count Committee for Ward 2. This committee will be citizens responsible for outreach in our community. That could mean making sure that posters are up in local recreation centers, that there is help for senior citizens dealing with the online filing process this year or speaking to local parent groups about the importance of responding.
My staff has reached out to some Ward 2 leaders already to help with this process. If you are interested in finding out about the Complete Count Committee or want to participate, please contact my office.
Most of us are still talking about our freak winter storm we had a few weeks back, but we are due for some weather in the mid 90’s this weekend. Remember to drink plenty of water if you are going to be out. Tucson Fire produced this video with some sound advice a few years ago:
Make sure to take care of yourself and have some fun with your family.