By Rep. Mike Sanders
Every 10 years, the U.S. Constitution requires a census to gain an accurate count of the people who live in our nation and the places where they live. The federal government uses these figures to determine how much money each state, county and municipality receives.
Federal money is of course really our money that we pay in the form of taxes and fees. We want to make sure it is returned to us so that we can build and maintain our highways, roads and bridges; so we can keep our schools open, our school buildings maintained, our classrooms stocked with up-to-date textbooks, technology and other teaching materials. We want to ensure children who qualify for free-and-reduced lunch are accurately counted and provided with nutritious food. We want to make sure special education students get the help and specific teaching materials they need. We want to ensure our fire departments and other public safety services receive their fair share of this funding. We want to make sure our health clinics and other social services receive an adequate share of these federal dollars so our residents’ health and mental health care needs are taken care of.
Census figures also are used to determine how many seats in Congress each state is allotted. Oklahoma lost a congressional seat after the 2000 Census. We don’t want to lose another. Census counts also help determine how state House and Senate districts are drawn so every Oklahoman has a local representative in state government.
Think of it like this, we are competing with every other community in Oklahoma for a share of these dollars. If we go undercounted, we lose money to the next district over.
In looking at response rates and the potential cost of being undercounted for the 2020 Census, here are the results for our House District by County.
Blaine County had only a 41.1% response rate as of Aug. 17. It currently ranked No. 65 in the state. If just 5% of the county’s residents are not counted in this Census, it is estimated the county will lose almost $24 million over the next 10 years in federal funding.
Canadian County has a 70.5% response and is currently ranked No. 1. If just 5% of this county is not counted, the estimated loss is more than $230 million over the next 10 years.
Dewey County has a 38.6% response rate and is currently ranked No. 67. If 5% of this county is not counted, it stands to lose almost $10 million over the next 10 years.
Kingfisher County has a 54.7% response rate and is currently ranked No. 21. If 5% of this county is not counted, we stand to lose almost $30 million in federal funding over the next 10 years.
Woodward County has a 52.7% response rate and is currently ranked No. 29. A 5% undercount would result in more than $40 million lost over the next 10 years.
The Census is easy to fill out. It takes less than 10 minutes. You can fill out and return by mail the form delivered to your house. You can respond online at https://my2020census.gov/, or you can call 844-330-2020 and answer the few questions asked.
Please take the time now to fill out the Census to make sure our district gets back all the money we’ve paid to the federal government. We want decent roads, schools and other public safety and health care services that the rest of the state and other in the nation will be receiving.