By Dylan Deprey
What’s a TV remote with only one battery?
What’s a skateboard with only three wheels?
What’s a kitchen without a chef?
When critical pieces go unaccounted for, they become un-energized, immobile and unmanageable. With thousands of dollars at stake, Gov. Tony Evers, Lt Gov. Mandela Barnes and other state and local elected officials met at Journey House to kick start 2020 census awareness on Oct. 28.
The Census is a once-a-decade snapshot of the nation. It provides an outlook on racial, ethnic, socioeconomic numbers and the areas people live in. The data is used by the government to redistrict electoral districts that fluctuate with changing populations. It is also used by businesses, researchers and communities to make decisions.
During the press conference, Evers signed an Executive Order decreeing the creation of the Complete Count Committee. The organization will educate and ensure every person was counted for.
Evers said Wisconsin had one of the best feedback rates in 2010, but there were nearly 600,000 people considered “hard-to-count” for 2020.
State Rep. David Crowley said that nearly $675 Billion in federal funds was allocated yearly for the states to share. Census data was used by over 130 government programs including: Head Start, Medicare, SNAP and transportation.
He said it was everybody’s responsibility to remind people about the 2020 Census.
“I want people to get sick and tired of hearing us talk about the Census because there are so many federal dollars on the line,” Crowley said.
Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said there were disparities in Census numbers. Whether it was people of color, kids under 5, low income, lower levels of education, he wanted all of the hard-to-reach people counted for.
“Our government can’t count for you, if we don’t know you exist,” Barnes said.
He noted that one unaccounted person was equal to roughly $14,000 per year.
“This is money that could be used to fund schools, build health facilities and improve the environment for our communities. For far too long, we have been ignored and we need to bring this to the table,” Barnes said.
By April 1, 2020 every resident across the 19 Milwaukee County municipalities will have received the notice to fill out. Mail is not the only option, as over-thephone, online and mobile versions are now available.
Evers said that from historically underrepresented communities to those in rural parts of the state, every person was counted for.
“At the end of the day, the census is not a headcount, it’s visibility, voice and values,” Evers said.