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The census dictates how much federal funding Arizona receives, as well as its representation in Congress.

The 2020 census is upon us and once again, the priority is information and education in the hopes that everyone is counted. We must do our best to help with hard-to-count groups, such as minorities, seniors, college students, children and underserved communities. However, we must acknowledge that fear and lack of trust will impact the accuracy of the census. Therefore, it is up to all of us to help our neighbors, friends and family engage and participate in the process. The census is constitutionally as important as voting.  

This year, the census coincides with our presidential elections. Although I am not stating an opinion on that topic, we are in a sense “voting” when we participate in the census. We are voting to be seen and acknowledged. We are voting for our piece of the federal pie. I like pie, I want our piece of the pie. Pie can be good for everyone, and I am not asking for more than what we deserve.

Simply put, it reflects a right that is foundational to our democracy. However, if that is not cause for inspiration and action, let’s speak to facts and impact, it determines how much federal funding Arizona receives. The census provides critical data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers and many others use to provide daily services, products and support for you and our community. 

Arizona continues to be one of the fastest growing states in population.  Which is why it is critical we are counted to accurately determine billions of dollars in federal funding, for programs such as:

• Schools

• Hospitals

• Fire Departments

• Health Care

• School Lunch Programs

• Roads

• Public works

• Community services

• Clinics

• Medicade, low-income housing, are examples of other resources based on census data

It was estimated that 1 million children were not counted in 2010. Imagine if in 2020 we don’t count every child in our city and state, that means our children are attending schools with reduced resources including lunch programs. Sadly, it is already happening,  I pose the question: “is that the best we can do for our children?”  

No Excuses. Every address is receiving the information in order to participate in the census and technology has made it easier. On the website

there are 13 languages in which to respond to the Census, you cannot use language as an excuse. If you prefer to use the phone, it gets better as there are 58 languages available. If either of these options do not work for you, there will be volunteers canvassing the neighborhoods. If that hasn’t convinced you of the importance, then look at these numbers.

$675 billion. That is what is available to our states every year and distribution of that funding is determined our state population. Our count in Tucson and outlying areas will also determine how much of that $675 billion funding we receive each year.

$3,000. That is the estimated dollar value per person, per year, and the potential gain through proper census reporting.   

10 years. Each year, Tucson and Arizona will receive a portion of the $675 billion in federal funding based on our population count. It is also how long we will wait to update the population count. Which is why we want to ensure everyone is counted. “Do-overs” only come every 10 years.

72 years. That’s how long the records are kept sealed.

Lastly, the census also impacts congressional districts, because that’s based off population. In 2010, Arizona gained another seat in Congress.  This translates into representation and advocates for our state.  Our local political boundaries are also based on census data, from our school districts to our state legislature.  It is in our best interest especially in underserved communities as we continue to strive for representation.

Let’s stand up and be counted, let’s help Arizona continue to grow and help our communities flourish.  Let’s get our piece of the pie.  

 

Isabel Georgelos is the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Chamber Administrator.