Texas Likely to Gain Additional Representation
By Rep. Joe Heflin
We hear about the census every 10 years, but do we know how the census will affect us the other nine years? The census plays a vital role in legislative redistricting, statewide governmental funding and party control. The census, like your right to vote, is just another way for citizens to participate in state and local government.
The census is used to distribute seats in the U.S. House of Representatives as mandated by the Constitution. While each state is guaranteed at least one seat, the other 385 are up for grabs based on population. The good news for Texas is that the nation as a whole is experiencing population shifts to the south and west, and this includes Texas. The estimated population for the State of Texas will be over 25 million, and Texas will gain extra seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
It remains to be seen how Texas House and Senate districts will be redrawn during the next legislative session, particularly from the rural perspective. However, encouraging your constituents' participation in the census will ensure Congress can make clearer decisions when it comes to equal representation.
Equally important is the census-based allocation of funding to state and local governments to the tune of approximately $600 billion per year. These funds assist in advancing efforts in housing, transportation, education, homeland security, labor, the criminal justice system and more. Consider the fact that each citizen not recorded is reflected in a potential loss of $13,500 in federal funds over the impending decade, according to the House Research Organization.
Texas has been proactive by engaging local governments in the process of locating and mapping population areas which are harder to count. Working through the Local Update of Census Addresses Program, the Census Bureau hopes to acquire a more accurate count by involving citizens who are most familiar with their area.
Census workers are being hired across the nation. Workers will canvas non-responders for a five- to 10-week period beginning in March, and be paid between $8 and $24 per hour based on position and wage scales.
Finally, seize the opportunity to work with your fellow government officials in a bipartisan effort to heighten awareness of the importance of the census. Work with your state, local and regional media sources to publish press releases or run PSAs.
We cannot afford to be silent on this issue. Too much is at stake. I hope you will join me in being counted in the 2010 Census.