Outlines Importance of Participation on Federal Funding, Elected Representation Decisions
HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With more than $4 trillion in federal funding at stake over the next decade, Governor Edward G. Rendell today said it is essential for every Pennsylvania resident to answer the 2010 U.S. Census.
To ensure the most accurate count possible, the Governor today established a statewide advisory panel that will work with local "complete count committees" in communities across Pennsylvania. The Governor named Pittsburgh Steelers legend Franco Harris and actress Ana Ortiz of television's "Ugly Betty" to co-chair the panel.
"Each year, more than $400 billion in federal funds are allocated based in all or in part on the results of the Census," Governor Rendell said. "That's more than $4 trillion over a 10-year period for critical things like schools, senior centers, job training centers, bridges, highways, public transit, and local emergency response services and training – a larger amount than many people realize."
The Governor said Pennsylvania cannot afford for any resident to skip participating in the Census, which involves answering only 10 questions and takes just 10 minutes to complete.
"According to the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, Pennsylvania's population in the 2000 Census was undercounted by 102,000 people. That's the equivalent of missing the cities of Altoona and Lancaster combined, or failing to count the entire city of Erie. We cannot let that happen again; there is too much at stake."
As an example, the Governor said that state and public transportation providers receive a combined $330 million from the federal government for public transit, and the funding formula is based to a significant degree on the state's population count. If Pennsylvania is undercounted, it will receive fewer dollars for transit.
For counties and local governments, hundreds of millions of dollars in liquid fuels funds are distributed based on the number of highway miles in a jurisdiction and the local population. Nearly $320 million was distributed to local governments last year.
"Beyond setting funding levels, Census results also play a role in determining how legislative districts are drawn and how many representatives Pennsylvania will have in the U.S. Congress," Governor Rendell said. "Some have suggested that Pennsylvania is at risk of losing a Congressional seat, but I am not ready to agree to that. If every resident is counted, I think that we will keep all our representatives."
A priority for the Governor's Census 2010 Advisory Panel will be to reach out to people who do not typically participate in the Census. In order to communicate with these hard-to-reach populations, the panel will rely on already established relationships of community leaders. These complete count committees are comprised of people, groups and agencies that local residents know and trust.
The panel will supplement the work done by more than 20 state agencies and commissions during the past few months determining how Pennsylvania can aid the U.S. Census Bureau's efforts.
Additionally, the Governor said the state and the Census Bureau want to assure residents that the process is safe and the information collected is confidential.
"Filling out the form will not increase your chances of getting called for jury duty; it will not mean that immigration agents will show up at your door; and no one will come looking for you for unpaid parking tickets," the Governor said. "In fact, the Census asks for less personal information than does a typical credit card application. The bottom line is that answering the 10 questions on the Census form is completely safe as well as something that is good for your community."
The form comes with a postage-paid envelope. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, participating via mail is the most cost-effective way to administer the national count; for every one percent increase in the response rate via mail, the bureau saves between $80 million and $90 million by avoiding the need to send census workers to obtain information in person.
The Census Bureau will start mailing out forms in mid-March, so residents should expect to receive one in just a few weeks. April 1 is "National Census Day" and the advisory panel will focus their efforts on getting residents to mail back their completed Census forms on that day.
For more information, visit 2010.census.gov.
Media contact: Gary Tuma, 717-783-1116
SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor