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Missouri Groups Prep for 2020 Census

The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering whether it is constitutional to ask everyone about their citizenship status on the 2020 Census. (U.S. Census Bureau)
The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering whether it is constitutional to ask everyone about their citizenship status on the 2020 Census. (U.S. Census Bureau)
May 31, 2019

ST. LOUIS – The next U.S. census is less than a year away, and nonprofit groups are putting politics aside and marshaling their forces at a conference today in St. Louis.

Groups like the Missouri Foundation for Health and the United Way want to make sure that Missouri gets an accurate count – and its fair share of federal dollars for infrastructure, education and social programs. Alex Rankin, government affairs manager with the Missouri Foundation for Health, says the census is vital to the state's economy and to its influence in DC.

"It's used to ensure states are being fairly represented, both in the allotment of federal dollars that we receive for safety net programs like Medicaid, food stamps, CHIP,” says Rankin. “But then also, it determines our number of congressional districts."

In December, Gov. Michael Parson established the Complete Count Committee, which he says will work with all stakeholders to target the hardest-to-count populations. These include families with children under age five, renters, lower-income residents, people of color and those who are undocumented.

The controversy over the possible addition of a citizenship question on census forms continues, with revelations yesterday that a political consultant behind the policy authored a 2015 study that said adding the question would lead to an under-count of Hispanics and pave the way for more Republican-friendly legislative districts.

Rankin says the census should be apolitical – and points to a study from George Washington University on its fiscal impact on states.

"It was estimated that in 2010, for every person Missouri under-counted, we forfeited approximately $1,200 federal dollars,” says Rankin.

She adds an under-count of just one percent works out to a loss of $72 million in federal funds for Missouri. Next summer, the Census Bureau will send out postcards with information on how to complete census forms online, or how to request paper forms.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MO