Idaho political, business and nonprofit leaders are gearing up to make sure everyone in the state is counted during next year’s census.
A mammoth committee put together by Gov. Brad Little (R) met for the first time Thursday to hone an outreach plan for the entire state.
About 83% of Idahoans participated during the 2010 census, which was above average for the country. But that still leaves the possibility of not counting everyone in the state – and leaving money on the table.
“We could lose a great deal of funding at the federal level. We pay federal taxes, just like everyone else does, so we should be thinking about participating – making sure that people are educated about how important this really is,” said former state Rep. Wendy Jaquet, who co-chairs the committee.
Census officials said Thursday that Idaho undercounted an estimated 31,500 people in 2010, which translates to tens of millions of dollars in foregone money.
A study from George Washington University found Idaho receives nearly $1,500 per person from the federal government, which are expected to total $3.2 billion this fiscal year. That money goes to programs like Medicaid, food benefits for the needy and highway project grants.
Earlier this week, the executive director of the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs, Margie Gonzalez, told the Times News that the state was setting up the census to fail by not reaching out to undocumented communities sooner.
That’s a priority for Jaquet and her fellow co-chair, Secretary of State Lawerence Denney (R).
“We need to count everybody, whether they’re undocumented or not,” Denney said.
The committee is also targeting other historically undercounted groups, like seniors, kids under five and those without internet access.
Jaquet says she hopes to have drafts of actionable plans ready for the committee’s next meeting in early October.
Gov. Little has said he expects final recommendations to him before the next legislative session begins in January. Census forms will be sent across Idaho beginning next spring.
Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.
Copyright 2019 Boise State Public Radio