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Census undercount puts billions of dollars at stake for Texas

By Roz Brown

Texas News Service

AUSTIN, Texas — Geographically, Texas is the second-largest state in the U.S, and that makes it difficult and critical to reach everyone in compiling the 2020 Census count.

The original deadline for the Census was extended because of the novel coronavirus pandemic – but last week, the Trump administration changed its mind, moving the deadline from October 31 to the end of September.

Deborah Weinstein, executive director of the Coalition on Human Needs, said Census workers have begun in-person non-response followups — but she’s nonetheless worried that many Texans are going to be missed.

“Right now, though, Texas’s count is worse than the national average,” said Weinstein. “More than two in five haven’t responded yet.”

Weinstein said in rural areas of Texas, young children, people of color, immigrants and low-income households are most often missed during a census count.

The tally determines how much money communities receive for services, from hospitals and schools to roads, infrastructure and water systems. To participate, Texans can go online to my2020census.gov.

Because of the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, Weinstein said states are going to need more money to help with health care and education – both areas that would be impacted by an inaccurate census count.

“If Texas doesn’t get any extra help from the federal government, they may lose 145,000 education staff people, teachers and others,” said Weinstein.

The Coalition on Human Needs is encouraging Texas Sen. John Cornyn and Sen. Ted Cruz, both Republicans, to intervene to stop the rushed Census deadline.

The U.S. Census Bureau gave no explanation as to why it had been moved up, but Democratic lawmakers have criticized the change, saying it was done to deliberately undercount groups that tend to support their party.