Kentucky Stands to Lose Billions from Poor 2020 Census According to New Study

For Release
Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017

FRANKFORT–The results of the 2020 Census are likely to help guide the allocation of more than $9 billion in federal spending for Kentucky each year, according to a new study led by Professor Andrew Reamer of George Washington University.

The George Washington University project is called “Counting for Dollars.” The report contains a 50-state listing of funds directed annually to state and local governments by census data for health care, Head Start, roads and highway, school lunch programs, housing assistance, and a variety of other programs. A summary of the national findings calculated $589.7 billion in Census-directed funding from 16 federal programs.

“There are so many different ways that Census information gets utilized,” said Rebecca Tucker, a member of the Madison County chapter of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth. “We utilize Census information when we develop strategies with our staff. We use the data to communicate the realities of our service region, and the data is a key part of our applications for state and federal grants.”

“If the Census is not effectively administered, it will hamper the efforts of nonprofits and agencies to serve,” added Tucker, a data analyst for a nonprofit organization. “A poorly run Census will not halt these services, but if there is dearth of good data it will take more time to collect the information needed. This will have an impact on the time dedicated toward direct services.”

On the eve of congressional actions to fully fund planning for the 2020 count, representatives of a coalition of census stakeholders representing business, industry, civil rights, academia, and state and local government called on Kentuckians to demand the state is properly counted in 2020 by supporting full funding in the federal Fiscal 2018 budget. The latest congressional budget falls hundreds of millions of dollars short of adequately funding census efforts. A poor count will put as much as $90 billion in federal support to Kentucky over the next decade at risk, according to the Census Project coalition’s review of the study.

Phil Sparks of the Census Project said Kentucky had much to lose from a poorly planned census count. “The state has a lot at stake in this debate,” Sparks declared.

While the study focused on 16 federal programs, just 5 accounted for most of the federal funding to Kentucky; led by Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, Medicare Part B, HUD Section 8 Housing Vouchers, and Department of Transportation Highway Planning & Construction Funds. “All Kentuckians benefit from a high-quality, complete and fair census,” Sparks added.

“The Census is a tool that helps identify under-served populations,” echoed Tucker.

For example, Census data can help identify grandparents raising grandchildren. It is used to identify and serve homeless youth and youth who are not in education, employment, or training.

“All three of these marginalized populations, and others, are identified by the Census,” Tucker emphasized. “While a few data points are unlikely to communicate a whole, human story, it is a place to start.”

“The fair and equitable distribution of federal financial assistance to state and local governments and households will depend on the accuracy of the 2020 Census,” said Professor Reamer, who conducted the study.

The full study can be found at:

Detailed findings on each of the 16 programs the group already researched can be found at the links below:
Medical Assistance Program (Medicaid)
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Medicare Part B (Supplemental Medical Insurance) – Physicians Fee Schedule Services
Highway Planning and Construction
Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers
Title I Grants to Local Education Agencies
National School Lunch Program
Special Education Grants (IDEA)
State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP)
Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments Program (Project-based)
Head Start/Early Head Start
Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
Foster Care (Title IV-E)
Health Center Programs (Community, Migrant, Homeless, Public Housing)
Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP)

PRESS NOTE: The Leadership Conference Education Fund produced a fact sheet on the uses of the data in the George Washington University report.