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Alabama has nation’s lowest census response, could lose $39.7 million if count isn’t extended

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Alabama could lose $39.7 million in federal funding annually if the U.S. Senate doesn’t extend the deadline for the U.S. 2020 Census count, according to recent reports. 

The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s recent reports found that if an under count of just 1 percent happens, Alabama stands to lose $35 million annually in federal funding for programs including Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and foster-care support. 

That same 1 percent under count could cost Alabama nearly $2.5 million in federal funding for schools, which is equivalent to all the textbooks needed for 9,961 students for one year, according to the report, and federal funding for jobs programs in the state could see a $1.9 million reduction. 

The threat of an early end of counting could hit Alabama the hardest.

Though Alabama has a middling self-response rate, as of Wednesday, Alabama had the worst total response rate to the 2020 Census in the nation, and was the only state in the U.S. in which less than 81 percent of households have been counted.

Just 80.6 percent of households have been enumerated as of Wednesday, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

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U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York, chairs the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and said in a statement Thursday that the threat of an under count shouldn’t be a partisan issue. 

“If Republican Senators want the people in their states to get the federal funds they are due — for healthcare, education, and a host of other programs — they should make sure they are fully counted,” Maloney said. “But the coronavirus crisis has delayed the count, and states across the country are being under counted just as census workers are being pulled out.  These numbers will be locked in for the next decade unless the Senate acts now to pass legislation to extend the deadlines to give the Census Bureau sufficient time to cope with this once-in-a-generation pandemic.”

The U.S. Census Bureau temporarily stopped field data collection in March as COVID-19 began to spread quickly nationwide, and the Trump administration asked Congress to extend the count deadline by 120 days, and although the House passed those extensions in May, the Senate has not yet taken the measure up.

The Census Bureau in August announced that census takers would cease follow-up visits one month early, ending on Sept. 30. 

A U.S. district judge last week granted a temporary restraining order that barred the Census Bureau from laying off census workers until at least a Sept. 17 hearing on the matter. A group of cities, counties and civil rights groups sued to prevent the early end of the count, arguing that the move was done to appease President Donald Trump’s desire to exclude undocumented immigrants from the count. 

Eddie Burkhalter
Written By

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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