Vote Against Any Amendment to Eliminate Census Funding in H.R. 1

Media 02.3.09

Recipient: U.S. Senate

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse coalition of civil and human rights organizations with nearly 200 member organizations, we are writing to urge you to reject any amendment that would strip the $1 billion for the Census Bureau currently in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1). The Census funding in H.R.1 is critical to preparations for the 2010 Census, and the failure to allocate it could derail ongoing work for the decennial count. Moreover, the Census creates jobs and is consistent with the core purpose of the recovery package – to reinvigorate the economy.

The success of the Census Bureau is of core concern to the civil rights community. Apportionment of representation in Congress and redistricting, as well as federal funding for services – such as hospitals, education, child-care, and disaster preparation — are determined by the census count. Undercounting certain populations, such as minorities or low-income individuals, may reduce federal funding for the services that these populations need most, or fail to accord them proportionate voting representation.

Essential groundwork for the 2010 Census has already begun. If this work is not adequately funded, the accuracy of the count will be placed in serious jeopardy. For example, the Census Bureau has actually started address canvassing to determine the addresses that should receive 2010 census forms. If this or any other of the countless preparations underway are slowed or halted due to lack of funds, the count will be less accurate.

The $1 billion in H.R. 1 supports several important census operations, including:

* Partnership Program. This program enlists community leaders and organizations, particularly in poor and minority communities, to educate their constituents about the census process and importance of the census. To be successful, the Program must be adequately funded and implemented many months before the count occurs. This year’s Partnership Program already lags well behind the successful 2000 Partnership Program, which was started a year earlier than the Partnership Program for the 2010 Census.

* Outreach and Promotion. Already, the advertising subcontractors tasked with targeting minority populations are extremely concerned about whether the level of funding they are receiving is adequate to the enormous outreach task they are charged with. Printing and preparation of advertising materials must begin immediately.

* Preparations for hiring more enumerators for non-response follow-up. The Census Bureau must prepare for the upcoming enlargement of its workforce by expanding infrastructure (such as office space, administrative capacity) to accommodate the staff increase. These enumerators are essential to the Census Bureau’s effort to reach out to individuals, frequently in hard-to-count communities, who did not respond to the initial census form mailing. Moreover, the building and maintenance of new offices creates jobs for communities, and the infrastructure financed by this bill will ultimately allow the Bureau to hire 250,000 enumerators.

We hope you will support the $1 billion in additional funding for the Census Bureau in H.R. 1 to allow it to conduct a fair and accurate 2010 count. Should you have any questions, please contact Paul Edenfield, LCCR Counsel and Policy Analyst, at 202-263-2852, or Nancy Zirkin at 202-263-2880.

Wade Henderson, President & CEO
Nancy Zirkin, Executive Vice President