Gov. Jay Inslee today kicked-off a meeting of his Complete Count Committee, a group of 30 leaders he has appointed to support and advise state officials on how best to ensure an accurate count of all Washington residents for the 2020 Census. Former governor and U.S. ambassador to China Gary Locke joined Inslee for the announcement. Locke will serve as committee chair.
State officials began preparing for the census in 2016, and earlier this year Inslee directed them to consider additional outreach efforts in the wake of concerns that federal actions such as under-funding the census and adding questions that deter non-citizens from participating could undermine efforts to reach minority or under-served communities. Accurate census data is crucial because it determines the number of congressional seats allocated to each state and drives various kinds of federal funding to state and local governments. For every household missed by the count, the state loses $4,800 every year in federal funding.
“There is so much at stake in the census count. Washington state must be ready, proactive and prepared to supplement where and when the federal government falls short,” Inslee said. “I am committed to ensuring that all our communities are counted and that our state receives the federal representation and resources it is entitled to.”
Inslee’s 2018 budget included funding for dedicated staff at the Office of Financial Management to organize statewide Census activities, establish this Complete Count Committee, and fund community grants for outreach. The governor and the Office of Financial Management are exploring funding options to continue this work into the next biennium.
Washington is part of a multi-state lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Commerce and Census Bureau to remove a citizenship question from the 2020 Census. In July, a federal judge ruled that the lawsuit could move forward in court.
Committee members range from members of the Washington State Legislature, to representatives from community groups, tribal communities, labor, business, and advocates for immigrant and refugee communities.