HARTFORD, CT—State officials said Tuesday that federal funding and political representation are heavily dependent on the 2020 Census count that begins in about three months.
Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, the chairwoman of the Connecticut Complete Count Committee, said Tuesday that the state will spend $500,000 on efforts to make sure everyone is counted, and that community foundations have pledged to at least match that expense.
The committee met Tuesday morning at the State Capitol.
“We get close to $11 billion a year from the federal government, and we are shortchanged badly compared to other states,” Gov. Ned Lamont said. “If we get the census right, if we get the count right, a lot of the money we get back from the feds is quantified based upon what our population is.”
The census count officially begins April 1, but surveys will begin going out in March, officials said. This year, the U.S. Census Bureau is working to get more people to respond to the surveys online.
But the agency is still hiring tens of thousands of people across the country, and has already hired 11,700 people in Connecticut, Ian Hull, deputy director of the Census Bureau’s New York regional office, said. He said there are 116 local committees already working on census efforts in Connecticut, and 1,095 registered partners including business groups, non-profit organizations, schools and local governments.
“The coverage and depth of participation in this state is unparalleled,” Hull said. “We need to carry the message that the census is safe, that it’s easy to complete, and that it’s so critically important to the state of Connecticut.”
He said Census Bureau staff would be visible throughout the year at festivals and community events in an attempt to reach every person who lives in Connecticut.
“We are bringing census support to the hard-to-count communities,” Hull said. “We’re no longer going to ask them to come to us. We’re going to deploy mobile units of Census Bureau employees armed with Census Bureau tablets to help people respond to the 2020 Census next year.”
Bysiewicz has been leading the state’s committee since February, and has been making presentations around the state.
Officials said Tuesday’s meeting was the 1,500th census-related event in Connecticut in the leadup to the count next year.
“We are far ahead of many other states because we have worked very hard over almost a year now already to put in place the infrastructure at the local level, which is what we’re counting on to make this all work,” Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said.
She said Connecticut’s political districts, which are reconfigured every 10 years after the census, are likely to change significantly based on the results of the count.
“Every community’s districts will no doubt be redrawn after the census is taken, and the number of people in each district determines your representation here at the state house as well as in Congress,” Merrill said. “In the past different census counts have resulted in us losing a Congressional seat. We don’t want that to happen again.”
She said the 2020 Census will be “more online than it has been in the past” to capitalize on the ever-growing number of people with reliable Internet access.
Bysiewicz and other officials said census participation cannot be used to change a person’s public assistance program participation or their immigration status, and temporary workers hired by the Census Bureau also will not have their assistance affected.
For information on census hiring, go to www.2020census.gov/jobs.