As the next legislative session is quickly approaching, I’d like to take a moment to remind everyone of a very important civic duty coming up in April. While it is an election year, I’m not talking about voting. This civic duty only happens once every 10 years, but it is vital to securing a bright future for our state: the 2020 Census.
Mandated by the United States Constitution to be taken every 10 years, the census aims to count every person living in the U.S. It’s important to know exactly how many people are living in Oklahoma because this count determines how much funding our state receives from the federal government for core services like hospitals, fire departments, schools and roads. For every person not counted in the census, the state loses out on about $1,800 per year in federal funding. A population undercount of just 2 percent could cost the state nearly $2 billion in funding over the course of 10 years for important services all citizens rely on.
Census data is also pivotal in helping to attract businesses to Oklahoma. A strong census count is important to attract the attention of business and industry leaders when making decisions on relocation and expansion. With accurate census data, I’m hopeful private sector corporations and small businesses alike will look at Oklahoma as an option for their new headquarters and field offices, leading to job creation for our citizens.
Census Day is slated for April 1, but citizens can begin responding to the census beginning in March. Census data will be collected via the internet, phone, mail or in-person with a Census Bureau employee.
Speaking of employment – the Census Bureau is hiring multiple census takers across the state. Pay will start at $15 per hour for positions in Mayes and Rogers counties. You can find more information about this position and others at 2020census.gov or call 1-800-JOB-2020.
The last census was taken in 2010, and Oklahoma’s census participation was only 75.5 percent. Neighboring states like Texas, Arkansas and Kansas all had higher participation rates than Oklahoma. If 25 percent of our population did not respond to the last census, how much funding and business growth opportunities did we lose out on? Let’s work together to get a full count in 2020, Oklahoma.
I look forward to serving District 2 again this legislative session, which begins February 3. My office is always open to hear your comments and concerns. If I can assist you in any way, please feel free to contact me or my executive assistant, Donna Garlick, at 405-521-5555. If you are visiting the Capitol, please come by and see us in room 419.
Senate Review by Senator Marty Quinn