OKLAHOMA CITY – A little more than 63% of America’s households have completed their U.S. Census forms. The response in Oklahoma, though, has been less than enthusiastic.
Barely 58% of Oklahoma households have completed their census forms, “putting at risk hundreds of millions of federal tax dollars Oklahomans will have paid to Washington but might not get back in critical population-based services,” Rush Springs native Joe Dorman said.
Among the services that will lose essential funding are those targeted to improve the lives of Oklahoma’s children, said Dorman, a former state legislator who is the chief executive officer of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy.
According to The George Washington University Institute of Public Policy, census-derived data is employed to:
• identify which organizations or individuals can receive federal funds;
• compute formulas that geographically allocate funds to eligible recipients;
• rank project applications based on priorities (such as smaller towns and poorer neighborhoods); and
• set interest rates for federal loan programs.
“This is our one crack at setting our population for a decade,” Dorman said. “If we fail to count every Oklahoma resident, we will be throwing away almost three-quarters of a billion dollars – money we as Oklahomans worked hard to earn.”
That amount comes from the fact that for every person not counted, the state loses approximately $1,700 each year, he explained. If the census misses even one out of every 100 Oklahomans, that will add up to $72 million per year – $720 million over the 10 years between census head counts.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to ensure you and your family are counted, by simply going to https://2020census.gov/ and submitting the information for everyone living in your household,” said Dorman. “We want to ensure that every Oklahoman is counted, and counted only once, so we do not lose vital resources such as road funding and support for children’s health insurance.”
55 FEDERAL PROGRAMS RELY ON CENSUS DATA
Allocation of funds from 55 large federal spending programs are guided by data derived from the census, the GW Institute of Public Policy reported. Those allocations to Oklahoma totaled more than $9.3 billion in Fiscal Year 2016 and included:
Medicaid, $2.9 billion; federal direct student loans, $876 million; SNAP (food stamps), $885 million; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, $148 million; Medicare Supplemental Medical Insurance (Part B), $756 million; highway planning and construction, $681.5 million; federal Pell education grants, $274.9 million; low to moderate-income housing loans, nearly $249 million; low-income housing tax credit, $104.9 million;
State children’s health insurance program, $189 million; national school lunch program, $170 million; special education grants, $152 million; Head Start, $148 million; WIC (Women, Infants and Children), $64 million; school breakfast program, $61 million; public and Indian housing, $34.9 million; low-income home energy assistance program (LIHEAP), $36.8 million; child and adult care food program, almost $58 million; crime victims assistance, $26.8 million;
State community development block grants, $12.8 million; CDBG entitlement grants, $11.7 million; water and waste disposal systems for rural communities, $36 million; rural rental assistance payments, $22 million; business/ industry loans, $29 million; and Native American employment/training, $1.9 million.
CENSUS WORK TO BE FINISHED BY SEPT. 30
All census offices are scheduled to complete their work by Sept. 30.
Some Oklahoma communities are returning census forms at a better rate than the national average, which was 63.2% on July 27.
As of Aug. 17, 51 Oklahoma communities had a higher response rate than the national rate. Cedar Valley in Logan County, west of Guthrie, paced the state at 84.7%. However, more than 500 Oklahoma cities and towns – including every one in southwest Oklahoma – were below the national average, with three logging a single-digit response rate. At the bottom of the list was the Pittsburg County town of Carlton Landing, on the shores of Lake Eufaula, with a response rate of 4.5%.