Sen. Alison Clarkson’s Legislative update, Feb. 9, 2020

Dear Editor,

The Census matters. Two Legislative committees were reminded last week of how important the data gleaned from it is for every state. Each decade since 1790, the U.S. Census Bureau has conducted an every household survey collecting data about our country’s people and the places they live. It is the leading source of quality data about Americans – and influences a major source of revenue to our states. This data determines how many representatives each state gets in Congress and helps shape our state legislative districts. Communities rely on census statistics to plan for their needs including roads, schools, and emergency services. And businesses use this data to market and to decide where to grow.

Last year, over $675 billion of our federal tax dollars were distributed to states based on Census data. This data determines how much financial support Vermont receives from many federal programs. Vermont’s FY2020 budget includes over $2 billion dollars federal dollars – about $4,000 per Vermonter. And a significant percent of that $2 billion comes to us based on the data derived from the Census. We see it in money for transportation, help for small businesses, education, Community Development Block grants, food stamps, Medicaid, tax credit programs, and many domestic financial assistance programs.

So, Vermont has a lot invested in making sure we conduct a robust 2020 Census. The Census is hiring 9,000 people right now in Vermont. The goal is to hire 613 people here in Windsor, 728 in Windham, 741 in Rutland, and 329 in Orange counties. They are taking applications now through March. The website is www.2020census.gov.

You can take the Census online, on paper, on the phone, in person, and in 59 languages. The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census be taken every 10 years to count all the people – both citizens and non-citizens – living in the USA. The Census has only nine questions, and they are simple and not intrusive. Census data is safe, secure, and protected by federal law – and is entirely confidential. Our answers can only be used to produce statistics and cannot be used by any government agency or court in any way – not by ICE, the FBI, or the CIA. The Patriot Act does not supersede the Census. Data security is the foundation of this work, and there has been no breach to date. In March, we’ll be getting an invitation to respond online to the Census. If you don’t respond, there will be follow up postcards, a paper questionnaire reminder, and a personal visit.

In Vermont, Gov. Scott has created the Vermont Statewide Complete Count Commission. The commission is working to count “hard to count” populations, which include youth, the homeless, migrant workers, LGBTQIA communities, people of color, and those with varying citizenship status. Key takeaways – Everyone counts, it’s about fair representation, it’s in the Constitution, it’s about redistricting, it’s your civic duty, and it’s about Vermont’s share of $675 billion dollars.

I can be reached at aclarkson@leg.state.vt.us, or by phone at the Statehouse Tuesday through Friday at 802-828-2228 or at home Saturday through Monday at 802-457-4627.

Sincerely,

Sen. Alison Clarkson

Windsor County

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