Lynn Stucky, D.V.M., Texas State Representative
In the coming months, people across the United States will take part in what is arguably the most important function as a resident of this great country. It’s the 2020 Census and this is one Constitutional duty in which everyone in Denton County — and Texas — should take part.
Census Day is observed nationwide on April 1. By that day, you should have received an invitation to participate in the survey either by mail, by phone, or online at 2020census.gov.
In 2010, Denton County’s participation rate was slightly above the state average at 76 percent and 71 percent, respectively. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the county with the highest participation rate that year was Baylor County, southwest of Wichita Falls, at 82% response rate. The county with the lowest participation rate was Zapata County, south of Laredo along the Mexico border.
In recent years, the census has been highly politicized. This is dangerous for Texas, a state that is growing its influence based on population and overall strength of our economy. A shallow count of all residents will negatively affect the state on multiple levels. A study of the 2010 Census found Texas was undercounted by almost 1%.
An analysis by the George Washington Institute found Texas’s 1% population undercount cost Texans approximately $300 million in federal dollars, or about $1,161 per person. This amounts to a shortfall in funding for Medicaid, education grants, free lunch programs at public schools, children’s health programs, and more. This is especially important when you consider that Texas ranks 25th in the number of federal tax dollars that return to the state.
For fast-growth counties like Denton County, an undercount could have multi-layered effects on how we address road construction projects and divvy up representation in Austin and Washington, D.C.
In 2021, the Texas Legislature will take up its Constitutional duty to redraw the district maps for Congressional districts, state Senate and House districts, State Board of Education, and Judicial districts. As populations swell, the number of constituents who are served by each of the 150 state representatives increases. This also means that lines will be redrawn in order to provide a balanced ratio of State Representatives to constituents. In 2010, that ratio was approximately 1 for every 167,637 Texans. Recent estimates could climb to 1 per 200,000. For Denton County, that could mean adding one more representative to the delegation based on the most recent population estimates.
The census is a massive effort that includes in-person visits to college campuses, senior living centers, military barracks, and other accommodations where large groups of people live.
With the assistance of technology, every Texas resident is able to take part in the census. Participating in this process is as important as voting and has the same ability to positively affect the future of this great state. I urge you to do your part to make sure every Texan counts in the 2020 Census.