Why NM Legislators Should Vote for SB 4
Summary: Sponsored by Senators Burt and Stefanics and Rep. Herrera, SB 4 will allocate $8 million to Dept of Finance and Administration to fund "outreach efforts to achieve a statewide complete count in the 2020 Census.” An important feature to the bill is its intent to allocate funds to counties and to community-based agencies that have roots in communities that have a history of low engagement in the Census process.
Why This Bill Is Important: New Mexico was undercounted by nearly 2 percent in the 2000 Census and had the second lowest response rate in the country during the 2010 Census. Undercounting may be an even bigger problem in 2020, because 2020 is the first year the Census will be conducted primarily online; this could be a challenge for rural New Mexico communities with poor or no Internet access.
- Seats in Congress and in the N. M. legislature will be allocated on the basis of this Census. To ensure just representation of all populations, seats must be based on accurate counts.
- For New Mexico, federal funds allocated on the basis of Census counts are an important resource. We need every dollar, and we cannot afford an undercount.
- According to New Mexico Counts: “A mere 1% undercount of New Mexico’s population in 2020 would result in a $780,000,000 loss of federal funds over a 10-year period. At risk are Financial Assistance programs for Health Care, Food Assistance, Public Education, and Community Development. Federal Funding for Transportation, Housing, and Small Business Development are also at stake.”
Why This Bill is Good for New Mexicans: New Mexico faces unique challenges in obtaining an accurate Census count, challenges that can be addressed with SB 4’s aggressive outreach plan.
- With its high rural to urban ratio, high poverty level, and large Hispanic population, New Mexico scores high on several risk factors for Census undercounting.
- In 2020, special efforts will be needed, given the long and well publicized efforts of the current administration to place a citizenship question on the Census in a transparent effort to frighten non-citizens and people close to non-citizens and ensure an undercount in New Mexico and other areas with large Hispanic populations.
- In 2020, much of the Census will rely on Internet access, posing challenges for any area with spotty service and the large numbers of people who are not digitally connected.
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