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Shorter Census deadline could put Florida funding at risk


By Lily Bohlke, Public News Service

This year's U.S. Census count will determine how much funding Florida receives in the next decade for many crucial government-funded services.

But the Census Bureau is ending its efforts to count the U.S. population a full month earlier than expected - September 30 instead of October 31 - on orders from the administration.

That means less than two months are left to reach populations that, historically, have been undercounted, from people in rural areas, to immigrants and people of color, to young children.

Deborah Weinstein, executive director of the Coalition on Human Needs, said the motive for speeding things up is suspect.

"It's hard not to see this as a means of undermining the census," Weinstein said. "Because the administration doesn't really want to count all these groups that are especially easy to miss."

So far, Florida's response rate is lower than the national average, with roughly two in five Floridians yet to be counted for the census.

The U.S. House included more funding and more time for the census in its coronavirus stimulus package.

Weinstein's group is one of many calling on Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., to push the Senate to do the same.

Weinstein said the pandemic puts a spotlight on health services and education in particular. Florida schools already face the possibility of extensive layoffs. It's estimated in the next couple of years, the state could lose 93,000 teachers and other school staff.

"It would be terrible for Florida to lose even more funding because all of its children haven't been counted," Weinstein said.

People who haven't yet filled out the census form for their household can still do so until September 30 by phone, by mail, or online at my2020census.gov. Census numbers are also used to determine a state's representation in Congress.

florida, Funding, Public News Service, US Census


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