By Gina Martinez
Elected officials gathered in Flushing last week demanding action on a census preparation bill.
State Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing), Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Flushing) and state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing) were joined by civic groups and community leaders Feb. 7 emphasizing the importance of the upcoming nationwide 2020 Census, as well as the serious consequences of under-counting and compiling incorrect records for the state of New York.
The national census, done every 10 years, is the mechanism by which funding for federal programs is allocated and congressional seats are apportioned. According to Kim, issues with under counting and inaccurate reporting from the previous censuses in 2010 and 2000 have cost New York billions of dollars in funding for community programs, as well as seats in Congress.
The attendees called on the state Senate to pass the new bill needed to establish the “2020 Complete Count Commission,” which already passed the Assembly in 2017. The bill would authorize the commission to identify the issues that led to under-counting in 2010 and fund the state’s preparations for the 2020 Census to ensure every New Yorker is counted.
Kim said it was deeply important that we get the next census one right, especially for communities with large immigrant or non-native English speakers who are at the greatest risk of being overlooked by the 2020 Census.
“New York has already been dealing with the damaging effects of under-representation from both the 2000 Census and the 2010 Census,” he said. “Unfortunately, the many worrying trends we have seen on a national level this past year leave us even more concerned. A combination of fear, intimidation and institutional barriers during the undertaking of the 2020 Census may cause irreparable harm to our state.”
Assemblyman Marcos Crespo (D-Bronx), chairman of the Assembly Task Force on Demographics and Reapportionment, said that under-counts during the 2000 and 2010 Census cost New York two congressional seats and the loss of tens of billions in federal aid for education, housing and transportation programs. He added that the 2020 Census is shaping up to be a real problem because it will rely heavily on the use of the Internet by requiring state residents to complete their Census forms online.
“For many communities with limited access to the Internet and computers and for the elderly and disabled this process spells a disaster for our state,” he said.
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