Minnesota Senate Ignores 2020 Census Prep

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Presenting at the Senate Finance Committee today (4/23/2019), Minnesota Department of Administration Commissioner Alice Roberts-Davis described how the Senate's state government finance budget would hurt Minnesota's efforts to prepare for the 2020 Census.  The Senate budget reduces funding for the division housing the state demographer's office, the agency responsible for state census activities, and does not include any additional funding similar to what was proposed in the Governor's budget and in the House state government finance bill.  The Senate bill was developed by the State Government committee chaired by Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer.  Below is the statement MCF presented to the Senate Finance Committee.  Listen to the Commissioner's presentation (2 hour and 55 minutes mark in the video).

Sen. Dick Cohen offered an amendment to add funding for 2020 census preparations to the Senate's state government bill.  Sen. Kiffmeyer asked the committee to reject the Cohen amendment because would put her bill out of balance. The committee's majority party members rejected the amendment on a voice vote. The amendment was brought up, along with others, in the context of concerns raised by the Walz administration about the methology the GOP-led Senate is using to project revenue, and unusually low budget targets.  Listen to the discussion about the Cohen Census amendment (1 hour 10 minutes mark in the video).

MCF Statement

The Minnesota Council on Foundations and Minnesota Census Mobilization Partnership oppose SF2227 for its failure to consider the critical impact of the 2020 Census, and value of a special effort to make sure Minnesota has a fully-inclusive and accurate count.

The State Government Finance and Policy and Elections committee chose not to hold a hearing on SF 2002 which proposed a strategy and requested an appropriation of $2.5M to prepare Minnesota for the 2020 Census.

Further, SF2227 proposes a seven percent cut in the budget for the Department of Administration’s Government & Citizen Services, which includes the Minnesota State Demographic Center.

Rather than acknowledging the critical importance of the decennial census, SF2227 threatens the state’s ability to effectively prepare for the 2020 Census.

What’s at stake?

Fair Representation: Projections are that Minnesota is “on the bubble” and among the states that could lose a Congressional seat after the 2020 Census. This was the case after the 2020 Census, as well. Minnesota hung on to its eight Congressional seats and 10 electoral votes by a mere 8,000 people.

State and Local Revenue: In 2016 Minnesota received an estimated $15.5 billion in federal funds allocated based on census data. For each person not counted, Minnesota would lose $2,800 in federal funding. Since the 2020 Census results will be used for a full ten years; that’s a loss of $28,000 per person over the decade. An undercount will hurt the state’s budget, and allocation of funds by the state and local governments.

Jobs and Economic Development:  Reliable and accurate census data drives core business decisions. Decisions for locating businesses, product development, marketing, and investment underwriting decisions relay, fundamentally, on census data.

Census Day is April 1, 2020.  A few weeks ago, Minnesota Census Mobilization Partnership and others launched the “We Count” campaign to initiate a one-year effort asking all Minnesotans to do their part to get out the count for the 2020 Census, because Minnesota is better when everyone counts. In our view, the budget proposed in SF2227 fails to ensure that in Minnesota  . . . We Count.

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