Update on FY 2019 Census Bureau Budget Action So Far

Both the House (H.R. 5952) and Senate (S. 3072) Appropriations Committees have now completed their versions of the FY 2019 Census Bureau budget.

The Census Project position, supported by about 150 stakeholder organizations, was outlined in a letter to Senators.

The more recent Senate bill was completed in mid-June. Our colleague Terri Ann Lowenthal then made the complicated calculations comparing the House and Senate bills. Here’s what she found:

The Census Bureau was budgeted for $3.821 billion in the Senate version. That’s $1.007 billion above the FY 2018 Bureau appropriation and about $21 million above the Trump Administration request for this fiscal year. This compares with the Census Project ask of about $4.7 billion for FY 2019. (The additional $21 million is for the Current Surveys and Programs account, which does not include the decennial census. The extra money restores this account to the FY 2018 level after the administration proposed a cut to vital ongoing surveys — a boost for which the Census Project advocated.)

But, now it gets complicated! The Senate’s proposed FY 2019 appropriation was $978 million below the House committee mark of $4.799 billion. But the House bill assumes that about $1.6 billion to $1.8 billion of the FY 2019 appropriation will be spent in the first quarter of FY 2020.

So, here’s an example of when less is likely more!

First, according to Terri Ann, both House and Senate appropriators assume that some of the FY 2018 funding will be spent in FY 2019 instead of FY 2018. That’s because this year’s final Bureau budget was not approved until this past Spring. Census Bureau leaders have said they will carry over $1.056 billion from FY 2018 to FY 2019, according to current plans.

So, the bottom line is that it appears that the FY 2019 Senate bill will result in more funding for the 2020 Census this fiscal year than the House bill. It allocates the administration’s budget request and assumes an additional $1.056 billion will be available without any forward funding for FY 2020, for a total of roughly $4.2 billion for the 2020 Census in FY 2019.

Meanwhile, according to Terri Ann’s calculations, the House bill will result in only $3.4 billion for the 2020 Census in FY 2019, including the carry-over from FY 2018.

The House and Senate are not on the same page with regards to FY 2019 funding for the 2020 Census! Census advocates and stakeholders have a lot of work to do to explain the need for consistent, increased support for the next decennial.

We will be urging Congress to accept the Senate appropriation for FY 2019 as a minimum to achieve the goals set forth in our Senate letter of expanded partnership staff and experts, a stepped-up communications campaign, and larger field infrastructure. We also will be seeking assurances from Congress that the final appropriated amount for FY 2019 is sufficient to cover these vital activities, in addition to any forward funding for FY 2020.

NY Times Article on Citizenship Question

The New York Times is reporting on the latest developments in the case initiated by 19 state attorneys general, and supported in amicus briefs by hundreds of organizations, opposing the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census form. The article says that the judge hearing the case is questioning the motives behind the potential Administration action.

The federal judge in the case is declaring the Administration’s stated reason for including the question, to better help enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, “potentially untrue.”

Two Interesting Articles And A Fact Sheet On The Citizenship Question

This week both The New York Times and NPR had interesting articles and stories about the behind-the-scenes efforts by the Trump Administration to arrive at its decision to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census form.

The Times and NPR stories also provide links to the primary documents used to document their information, based on “discovery” requests in the New York State, et al suit to halt the move.

And the Association of National Advertisers has produced a fact sheet opposing the citizenship question.

Issue Brief on End-To-End Test

The Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund have published an issue brief providing an overview of the ongoing 2018 End-To-End field test now being conducted in Providence, Rhode Island. The Rhode Island test is the last, most comprehensive test of some of the mechanisms to be used in the 2020 Census.

Census Project Letter to Senate Appropriators

The Census Project and 174 stakeholders and allies have sent a letter to Senate appropriators urging them to meet the budget mark of the House Appropriations Committee’s recently passed FY 2019 Census Bureau budget.

“FY 2019 is a pivotal year for 2020 Census preparations and the last opportunity the Bureau has to ensure information technology systems and new operations are in place for a successful decennial census,” said the letter. “These activities include completing all address canvassing operations, opening Area Census Offices, finalizing IT systems readiness and security, and recruiting and hiring approximately 76,000 personnel.”

The Senate CJS Appropriations Committee is expected to act on its version of the FY 2019 Bureau budget the week of June 11.