At a press conference on February 19, 20202, Florida TaxWatch (FTW) along with leaders from Panama City and Bay County highlighted the need for community participation in the 2020 Census. As the third largest and fourth fastest growing state in the country, the upcoming Federal Census count will be more important to the Sunshine State than nearly any other state. Federal grant programs distribute $700 billion using census data. If Florida is under-represented by the count, it could cost the state millions, or even billions, of dollars. Florida’s state and local officials need to immediately start ensuring the accuracy of the count by participating in existing intergovernmental processes to verify addresses and residences.
A recent Florida TaxWatch report shows that Florida receives less grants per capita than every other state in the nation and concludes, “It would be hard to argue that Florida’s share is anywhere close to equitable.” If Florida received the national average in per capita federal grants, the state would get $14.6 billion more of its tax money back. Read the FULL TaxWatch research briefings and explore its new interactive dashboard which explores key metrics describing projected undercounts in the upcoming 2020 Census here.
According to a 2001 report to U.S. Congress by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Florida had the fourth largest undercount (200,670 persons) during the 2000 Census. At Florida’s per capita grant amount, this undercount would cost the state more than $225 million annually, or more than $2.5 billion over a decade.
“Accuracy in the 2020 Census count is imperative and in Bay County and Panama City where the population is still recovering from Hurricane Michael, we can’t afford an undercount,” said Dominic M. Calabro, President and CEO of Florida TaxWatch. “Billions of dollars for Florida and millions in funding for cities like Panama City, as well as proper congressional representation, depend of the census. We are grateful for the partnership of Bay County and Panama City in encouraging full participation in the 2020 Census and their focus on making sure that this community and our state receives its full and fair share of federal funding.”
“The 2020 Census presents an important opportunity for our community as we continue to recover from Hurricane Michael. With millions of dollars on the line for our county, we need everyone in Bay County to take the census seriously and be counted,” said Bay County Commission Vice Chairman Robert Carroll. “I want to thank Florida TaxWatch and our partners here in Bay County for keeping due attention on this important issue. Bay County looks forward to a great 2020 Census.”
“Panama City is resilient and following Hurricane Michael, we know that ensuring full participation in the 2020 Census is a crucial part of our work to successfully recover from the storm.” said Panama City City Manager Mark McQueen. “Immediately following Hurricane Michael, Panama City lost more than 10 percent of our population. Now, as families return to this community, we must be prepared to welcome them and provide every service they need and deserve. We want to thank Florida TaxWatch and everyone working to highlight the importance of a great census turnout in Panama City.”
“The Bay County Branch NAACP is fully committed to ensuring that the 2020 Census does not systematically under count communities of color, particularly African American communities while substantially over counting communities that are less racially diverse,” said Bay County NAACP President Dr. Rufus Wood. “We urge all churches, faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, fraternities, sororities, lodges and businesses in our community to inform people in their circles that the 2020 Census matters for a decade. Therefore, participation is critical. The Census will impact quality of life services, influence the electoral college and will help determine whether an area gets a seat in the U. S. House of Representatives. If we are not counted, we will not count.”
For the first time, census forms may be submitted online, making social media and digital promotion an integral part of public outreach efforts. There are more than 130 federally funded programs that are based on the census, including: education, health, transportation, water and waste infrastructure, assistance to low income, elderly and disabled persons, affordable housing, economic development, job training, the arts, and the environment.
About Florida TaxWatch
As an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit government watchdog and taxpayer research institute for forty years, the trusted eyes and ears of Florida taxpayers, Florida TaxWatch, works to improve the productivity and accountability of Florida government. Its research recommends productivity enhancements and explains the statewide impact of fiscal and economic policies and practices on citizens and businesses. Florida TaxWatch is supported by voluntary, tax-deductible donations and private grants, and does not accept government funding. Donations provide a solid, lasting foundation that has enabled Florida TaxWatch to bring about a more effective, responsive government that is more accountable to, and productive for, the citizens it serves since 1979. For more information, please visit http://www.floridataxwatch.org.