California lawmakers are in the thick of the state budget review season, with budget subcommittees in the Assembly and Senate combing through Gov. Jerry Brown's funding proposals.
All five Senate budget subcommittees meet today, including the Senate Budget Subcommittee on State Administration and General Government. As the 2020 Census nears, the subcommittee will debate Brown's proposal to support a California effort to reach hard-to-count populations.
Brown's 2018-19 budget asks for $40.3 million over three years and 22 new employees for the California Complete Count effort, which will aim to make sure hard-to-reach California residents, especially undocumented and minority residents as well as children under five years old, are counted in 2020. California has more residents in these categories than any other state.
According to a staff report, a majority of the funds would go towards a media campaign and working with local community groups to encourage residents to complete their census forms.
The California effort is driven in part by President Donald Trump's proposal to include a question about citizenship in the next census count. That proposal, combined with the Census Bureau's plan to move primarily to online responses and have fewer workers for follow up counts, concerns California leaders.
"What the Trump administration is requesting is not just alarming, it is illegal," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra wrote in a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross last month.
The citizenship question in particular could scare undocumented residents into not responding, which would lead to a significant undercount in California. The Legislative Analyst's Office notes in a report on Brown's funding proposal that census information on immigration status cannot legally be passed on to immigration enforcement agencies.
The Legislative Analyst's Office notes that an undercount of roughly 76,000 people could result in California's losing a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Medi-Cal funding, highway funding, Section 8 housing vouchers and special education grants are other programs impacted by census data.
Brown's request for $40.3 million is a significant increase from past investments in the California Complete Count. The state spent only $2 million in outreach efforts for the 2010 Census, and the Complete Count Committee raised about $10 million in private funding to support that effort.
The Senate Budget Subcommittee on State Administration and General Government meets at 9:30 a.m. in Room 2040 of the Capitol.
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