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States spending big bucks on census prep

by Statehouse Reporter, Eagle Tribune

Massachusetts is spending an unprecedented $6.25 million to make sure all of its residents are counted as part of the 2020 Census. Billions of dollars in federal funding and seats in Congress are at stake. As part of the outreach, Secretary of State Bill Galvin’s office has printed posters in multiple languages seeking to calm fears and clear up misconceptions about the decennial count.

With political clout in Washington D.C. and billions of dollars in federal funding at stake, Massachusetts and more than a dozen other states are spending unprecedented amounts of money on outreach and preparations for the 2020 Census to get the decennial count right.

Collectively, at least 27 states have spent or committed more than $316 million for the effort, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Massachusetts has earmarked at least $6.25 million this fiscal year for 2020 Census outreach and preparations, the seventh largest amount among all states.

The state is pegging $3.5 million for competitive grants to community groups and local governments to do public outreach, as well as $2.75 million for technical assistance and post-census work, according to the Secretary of State’s office, which oversees the state’s count. The money was allocated by the Legislature as part of the state budget.

“This is the first time in Massachusetts and other states when an enormous amount of money is being devoted to get a full count,” said Eva Millona, who chairs the state’s Complete Count Committee that is coordinating the outreach. “It’s extremely important that we make these investments, because the Census is about power, money and respect.”

Much of the money is going to cities, towns and community organizations, she said, because they have stronger ties and more credibility with hard-to-count populations such as low-income residents, immigrants, transient college students the elderly and indigenous peoples.


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